The life of Rushane Barnett
Undertakers remove the body of one of the five people killed in this house in Coco Piece, Clarendon on July 21, 2022. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

The decision to pursue the death penalty as announced by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has sparked public debate.

This because it is always a controversial topic, it’s not used often and it has a bad history. It’s certainly worth some discussion.

Let me open by saying Rushane Barnett is not yet convicted, so anything said is based on the assumption that a conviction is achieved.

That being said, a horrible crime has been committed against five persons and it is inexcusable.

So let’s start by asking, can the prosecutors achieve their ambition? And if so, can I apply for the job?

Well, their first obstacle is that the prosecutorial team has to get past a jury of 12, not seven, and has to convince them to sanction and almost certify the death of a human being (although I’m not sure anyone who commits a crime like this is still human, or really ever was).

Many people have an issue with being involved with killing, and understandingly so.

There are also denominations that condemn it. This, coupled with general activism against the death penalty, creates an issue the prosecutorial team will have to face.

On that issue, I hope this case is tried during DPP Llewellyn’s tenure, and prosecuted by her.

If there is one person who can overcome the jury obstacle, it’s her.

Then there is the issue created by the Pratt and Morgan precedent, that all capital murder convicts must complete their appeal within five years, as it is inhumane to keep a man on death row longer than that, according to the Privy Council.

Well, the introduction of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms into our Constitution overrides the precedent created by the Pratt and Morgan appeal. Look it up, chapter 13, it’s right there.

Then there is the issue that capital punishment must only be used in cases where it could be considered the worst of the worst, created by the Birmingham case.

Well, this has got to fit the bill. This was a woman and four kids, to include one baby. To make it worse, one of the kids was trying to save the baby whilst she was being murdered, and the baby was found in her clutches after the massacre.

So I think DPP Llewelyn can pull it off. Let’s go for it!

Now let’s discuss the controversy.

Capital punishment is a final punishment, an irreversible one. That’s my issue with it’s use by any system, especially one that is flawed.

Look on the Lescene Edwards case that the Privy Council ruled on this year and you would share my concern. We are certainly not perfect.

However, I have always maintained that we need to keep capital punishment on our books for cases that are this horrible, or where the offender’s guilt is obvious.

This one fits the horrible description on any scale you measure it.

So let’s look beyond the controversy and look into ourselves. When did we become this ridiculous?

How does executing a man convicted of a crime like this become a dividing issue?

The issue should be how we will execute, whether we use a humane method.

I am not that sure that many of our citizens, the majority in fact, would not prefer a slow method, very slow method.

I not only believe that there should be an execution solution for anyone who commits a crime of this nature, but I believe corporal punishment should be thrown into the mix as well.

When did we become this bleeding heart bunch of irrational pawns that follow the impractical where they wish to lead us. We are Jamaicans!

This man killed other people. He should be killed, it’s that simple.

I am not a believer in the Privy Council’s proclamation that it must be the worst of the worst. Once you kill you should be killed, unless it is self-defence or extreme provocation.

My issue is the ability to come to an accurate conclusion in trying a human being for murder, in any system.

That is really my only concern. Why? Because if one of my loved ones were killed I would want the convicted offender killed. So I would expect the same for everyone.

There is also the issue of ‘picking your fights’.

Jamaicans For Justice, this is not a fight you need to get involved in. This will isolate you from the vast majority of Jamaican people and may hinder you from assisting those deserving of your support in the future. Leave this one alone, this baby killer doesn’t need you.

However, you are seriously needed in the parish of St Catherine, where a young mother was murdered recently in Gregory Park. You are needed to help Officer Manning, who was left immobile in a hospital bed after being shot off his motorcycle.

To the clergy, I understand your issues. Killing is contrary to your faith. However, the embracing of this issue for this offender, for this crime, is counter-productive.

I close with the message that executing this murderer could send. It will show once and for all that we are a nation that believes in retribution, an often absent element of judicial consideration and human rights activism.


Jason McKay

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