ODPP explains death penalty notice for accused quintuple killer

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) has sought to explain why it served a death penalty notice against Rushane Barnett, the man accused of slaughtering a mother and her four children in Cocoa Piece District, Clarendon last week.

In a news release, the ODPP noted that the provisions of section 3(1) of the Offences Against the Person Act states “that every person who falls within section 3 (1A) shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life or to death”. The provisions under the same section include individuals who are convicted for multiple murders which arise out of the same incident.

The ODPP said Section 3 (1D) of the Act prescribes that the death penalty will not be imposed unless prior notice is given to the accused person long before the trial of the matter indicating that section 3 (1A) would be applicable on conviction for the offence of murder and a possible option in sentencing given the circumstances of the case.

“In light of the above provisions and a consideration of the circumstances of the case, it has been deemed appropriate by the ODPP for the Death Penalty Notice to be prepared and served on the accused at the time that the Voluntary Bill of Indictment is laid in court,” the release said.

“This is to ensure that at the earliest opportunity the accused is made aware of the intention of the prosecuting authority to make the recommendations that the death penalty is an option for the sentencing judge consequent on a conviction after trial for the five counts of murder as outlined on the indictment,” it added.

Barnett of Wilson’s Run, Trelawny, and Papine in St Andrew, has been charged with five counts of murder.

READ: Suspect in killing of mother, four children in Clarendon charged with murder

The bodies of 31-year-old Kimesha Wright, a practical nursing student; 15-year-old Kimanda Smith; 11-year-old Shara-Lee Smith, and five-year-old Rafaella Smith and 23-month-old Kishawn Henry, all of New Road, Cocoa Piece, in Clarendon, were discovered inside their home with chop wounds and their throats slashed on Tuesday, June 21.

READ: Mother, children found with throats slashed

Barnett reportedly fled the area to Wilson Run in Trelawny, where he was apprehended.

Barnett appeared before the Home Circuit Court for the first time on Tuesday where a Voluntary Bill of Indictment was issued to move the case forward, having carefully considered the allegations as disclosed within the evidentiary material gathered so far, the law, and the public interest, according to the ODPP.

Barnett will return to court on Friday, July 22, 2022 for his legal representation to be settled, outstanding reports, including a psychiatric evaluation to be submitted, and disclosure of all the material to the defence.

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