Lawyer says client incapable of love
MONTEGO BAY, St James — The defence attorney for Rushawn Bulgin, who was on Friday sentenced to 20 years for the murder of a homeless man, told the St James Parish Circuit Court that his client’s difficult childhood left him incapable of giving love and affection. Against that background, the attorney begged the court to give Bulgin a chance to find love later in life by starting his own family.
Bulgin will have to serve 18 years before being eligible for parole.
The 23-year-old pleaded guilty to murder after he was caught on video repeatedly hitting Matthew Lettman in the head with a rock.
Lettman’s body was discovered on Jimmy Cliff Boulevard in Montego Bay on March 7 this year, with severe injuries consistent with a brutal attack.
Preliminary reports revealed his skull had been crushed, likely by a heavy stone, which led to his death.
A post-mortem conducted on April 6, 2023 confirmed these findings.
On Friday, Bulgin apologised in open court, before his lawyer Albert Morgan made his mitigation plea.
“Ma’am, on behalf of Mr Lettman’s family I am asking you to forgive me and have mercy on me, as I have asked you before,” Bulgin said to High Court Judge Judith Pusey.
Morgan painted a picture of his client as a young man who had a tough childhood.
“What we can see from the social enquiry report is a child who has been exposed to a variety of conditions that could result in this type of behaviour… His father exposed him to early use of marijuana and physically abused him… He’s been using marijuana since he was 10,” the lawyer explained.
The attorney went on to say that Bulgin’s mother was also subjected to that sort of treatment from his father, and that his parents did not want him in the house because he steals from family members.
He also stated that his client went to several schools but was forced to leave due to his conduct, and that the community regards him as having “buttery” fingers, which means he likes to steal.
He pointed out that because of Bulgin’s early exposure to violence, ganja, and lack of emotional support, he grew up incapable of showing anyone else love and affection.
But the lawyer sought to convince the court that his client is not beyond redemption.
“He wants the opportunity to return to society, marry, and start a family,” the attorney explained, adding that no one saw the need for his client to seek counselling for his disruptive behaviour and that he was a victim of poor parenting.
In making her ruling Judge Pusey referred to the social enquiry report which stated that the deceased and the accused knew each other prior to the incident, and that Lettman had vomited in front of Bulgin and destroyed his passport the day before the incident.
“The deceased was lying asleep, the accused was upset from the day before, picked up a boulder and dropped it several times in his head,” the judge said.
The social enquiry report also revealed that Bulgin was in State care for four years and that he has a family history of mental illness. It also revealed that he has anger management issues and associates with drug users. The point was also made that intervention would have had a positive impact.
However, Judge Pusey stated that his legal trouble was self-inflicted because he was provided with a home, and his association with drug users was the result of a lifestyle choice.
When deciding on the sentence the judge noted the gravity of the offence while also taking into account that Bulgin had not wasted the court’s time, showed the police the boulder, cooperated with the police, and expressed remorse.
She then sentenced him to 20 years, four months, and seven days in prison, with the recommendation that he receive drug treatment as well as psychiatric and psychological evaluation.
Bulgin’s mother sobbed uncontrollably as he was led to the holding area, and police officers allowed him to speak with her.
“Mummy, I love you, I love you… I promise you that I will behave myself,” Bulgin said, his eyes welling up with tears.
He then told the police, “Hug her up for me.”
As they whisked him away he repeated, “Mummy, I love you, I love you.”