Saturday, 30 June 2012 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John’s - Damien O’Garro has been sentenced to seven years for manslaughter.
O’Garro, who was first charged by the police with murder, pleaded guilty on June 5 to the lesser count.
He was accused of stabbing to death Maria Felix of the Dominican Republic on February 6, 2010, at Lionel Hurst Street. Felix was stabbed twice to the chest and died as a result of the injuries.
O’Garro has spent 28 months or three prison years on remand and the court took that into account.
The 23-year-old man apologised to the court on Friday for his actions and noted that he did not set out to kill the 35-year-old Hispanic woman.
He asked the court for leniency.
“I know that I stand here before you (the court) on a very serious matter. The circumstances are very complex and it was not intentional. It (the killing) was a mistake and I regret it every day.
“I am sorry to everybody who I have hurt and caused pain to. I have to accept responsibility. I am at fault and I have to pay. I pray God will guide your decision, sir. I stand at the mercy of the court, sir,” the convicted man, who was choked up while addressing the court, said.
O’Garro’s attorney Cosbert Cumberbatch told the court that his client has complied with the prison rules and has been exemplary in his community and to his family and friends.
Cumberbatch said the young man has received many certificates including one while in prison after participating in last year’s Independence Literary Arts Competition.
O’Garro, who drank and smoked marijuana in school, dropped out of the Antigua Grammar School in fourth form.
Cumberbatch said the convict has penned a least two letters expressing his regret for the incident.
The attorney said O’Garro has impeccable character and called the case one of extenuating circumstances.
He told the court to impose a reasonable sentence on the young man and added that sentences for this offence in previous cases range from 2 ½ to 15 years.
A character witness, Roland Haywood, a carpenter instructor at the Antigua & Barbuda Institute of Continuing Education (ABICE) where O’Garro once attended, spoke on his behalf.
Haywood described the 23-year-old man as a person who was always willing to help and a gifted student.
He said he was shocked to hear of the incident since the act is out of character for O’Garro whom he said never argued or got in fights at the institution.
On the night of the incident, O’Garro gave the Hispanic woman a ride home and they ended up having consensual sex. She reportedly demanded payment of $200, but he did not have that sum.
He offered her his clothing and watch as collateral until he returned with the money. Felix refused the offer and O’Garro asked her to accompany him to his home to get the cash. She refused again.
The Hispanic woman began to hit O’Garro about the body and held a knife to his neck, but he managed to get hold of the knife and stabbed her.
She screamed out and he took the knife, left the house and drove away in the vehicle which belonged to his grandmother.
He did not know the severity of the woman’s injuries and later learnt of her death.
He was arrested and charged following investigations.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Anthony Armstrong prosecuted the case.