Reggae Girl killer didn’t even blink after found guilty of manslaughter
Twenty-three-year-old quality analyst Rushelle Foster, who was on Thursday found guilty of the 2019 stabbing death of national senior women’s footballer Tarania “Plum Plum” Clarke, took that verdict with a blank stare.
The emotionless Foster, clad in a multicoloured top and black pants, looked straight ahead without blinking as the jury foreman voiced the unanimous decision. She then bowed her head and jerked one leg.
Foster, who was found guilty of manslaughter by a jury comprising four women and two men, is to be sentenced on February 29 this year by Justice Leighton Pusey. A social enquiry report (SER) and an antecedent report were ordered for the convicted woman.
The verdict left several individuals stunned, including members of Clarke’s family who were present throughout the eight-day trial.
“From 2019 we have been praying and we left everything in God’s hand and we left God to be the judge and, honestly, He did His fair share. It was in God’s hand and He handed down what He was to hand down. It is not up to us to judge or decide,” one of Clarke’s nieces resignedly told the Jamaica Observer.
However, a younger niece interjected, “Mi nuh feel pleased because she kill her willingly” and expressed a desire to see the convicted woman sentenced to life behind bars without the possibility of parole.
“Plum Plum don’t fight inna school. Plum Plum walk round like say she a principal and tell the pickney dem what to stop do,” she told the Observer.
Clarke’s sister, who was said to be the first to receive the news of her killing, argued that Foster’s portrayal of her sibling in an unsworn statement from the dock was far from the truth.
“The way how Plum Plum was a peaceful little girl, if Plum Plum did live out that stab she wouldn’t mek we know. That’s how she was. Me a the terrible one,” she said, noting that her sister was able to befriend individuals she considered her sworn enemies. She said the family’s suffering since the slaying has been indescribable, adding that the footballer’s eldest female sibling, who was ailing before her killing, had worsened after the news broke, and died a year after her younger sister.
Clarke’s mother, Charmaine Riley-Clarke, who sat quietly, grief written all over her drawn ebony face, declined to speak to the Observer. However, she dismissed the claims about her daughter’s sexuality, insisting that if it were true at all, Foster would have been the one to introduce her child to that lifestyle.
Clarke, a rising star in the sporting arena, was stabbed to death during a dispute over a cellular phone gifted to her by Foster about 8:50 pm on October 31, 2019 at Limelight Plaza in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew.
The sole eyewitness, who was the first to take the stand in the Home Circuit Division of the Supreme Court when the trial began on January 8, 2023, had told the court that on the evening in question there was an argument between the Reggae Girl and Foster.
The witness said that during the argument Foster accused Clarke of deliberately ignoring her calls, but Clarke responded by saying her phone was acting up and that other individuals had also been experiencing difficulties contacting her.
The witness said Foster lunged forward and tried to grab the phone from Clarke, who pushed her hand away. She said Foster then brandished a knife and stabbed the footballer in her side.
The court was told that when Clarke gasped, “Yuh stab mi,” Foster reportedly said, “So what? Mi wi do it again,”, and stabbed her a second time.
Foster, however, claimed she acted in self-defence, insisting that she would have been the one to die if the footballer, who she said was fuming over the fact that she had called it quits on their “toxic” seven-month sexual relationship, had got hold of the weapon used to stab her.
Foster, addressing the court on Monday, in explaining “what really happened on October 31, 2019” said she had been in an intimate relationship with the footballer but it had soured because they had different “values”.
“I met her four years before, but got into an intimate relationship seven months prior [to the incident]. Me and Tarania were in an intimate relationship. Growing up, my sexuality was always a concern. I wanted to experience how being with a female felt; I was on the experimental side. When I met Tarania she expressed to me that she liked me. I told her I’d never been with a female before so I wasn’t sure I would be able to be committed,” Foster told a deafeningly silent courtroom then.
“After a while I decide that if I was going to be with a female, my first time would be with Tarania. We decided we would start dating. It started to develop, we started to spend more time together, started doing things together, but we realised that we had different values and because of that we started not to get along so well,” Foster claimed.
A consultant forensic pathologist who had examined Clarke’s body said the then 20-year-old died from “haemorrhage and shock” from a stab wound to the chest which punctured a lung. The stab was one of two wounds the footballer received. The first, which was inflicted to the left upper anterior chest, penetrated the underlying tissues and perforated the upper lobe of the left lung. The expert said the second stab to the left mid-anterior abdomen penetrated underlying tissues and ended in the muscles of the lateral abdominal wall. The consultant forensic pathologist said haemorrhaging was seen in the tissue of the stab wound.
Foster, who said she’d had no intention of killing her friend, said she was the one to rush to Half-Way-Tree Police Station to get help for Clarke when her frantic attempts to get help from passersby failed.