Belize’s last man on death row has sentence quashed

He killed a man in 2000, and was sentenced to death a few months later along with two others.  But 44 year old Glenford Baptist has a new lease on life after being told this morning that his sentence of death by hanging will be commuted. He was Belize’s last man on death row – others before him such as Patrick Reyes, Earlin White, Adolph Harris, Patrick Robateau and Leslie Pipersburgh had had their sentences reduced. Attorney Pricilla Banner of Courtenay, Coye and Company LLC shared details of how the case came to court.

 

Priscilla Banner – Attorney for Glenford Baptistvlcsnap-2015-07-14-10h41m15s211

“Essentially what happened today is that the matter came up for hearing before the Honorable Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin and the Government, I must say, conceded the point that there was intact a breach of Mr. Baptist’s constitutional rights in so far as Section 7 in concerned and basically conceded that the sentence should be quashed. It has been long established law that that is the case, so the fact that Mr. Baptist was just languishing on death row for thirteen years and eight months is quite  unacceptable. So today, his lordship heard the parties in respect of this matter and determine that in view of the concession by the government and acknowledged well-established case law that the sentence of death for Mr. Baptist should be quashed and that a resentencing hearing should be set. That hearing is scheduled for October, where the Chief Justice will determine what sort of sentence should be imposed which properly reflects a punitive element for the crime which admittedly was committed.”

 The two grounds on which Baptist presented his case were that the length of time between his sentencing and the current appeal, some 13 years and 8 months, left him subject to violation of his constitutional rights under section 7 not to be treated inhumanely, and that his automatic sentence of death for conviction of murder by firearm was incorrect according to the local case of Patrick Reyes and the Queen decided by the Privy Council in 2002. At the sentencing hearing planned for October, Banner says they will use the case of Adolph Harris, accused of killing a woman in the mid-1990’s, for a guideline for Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin to issue an appropriate sentence. In 2000, Baptist along with the now-deceased Gilroy Wade and Oscar Catzim Mendez were accused of killing Azrin White in reported retaliation for an alleged kidnapping. Then-Supreme Court Justice and current Attorney General Wilfred Elrington handed down the death sentences in November of 2001. On appeal at the Court of Appeal, Mendez won but Wade and Baptist were dismissed. Wade was later killed in a jailhouse murder in November of 2007. Belize has not executed a man since Kent Bowers exactly 30 years ago last month. The death penalty statute, however, remains on the law books.

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