After two mistrials and the murder of a key witness, the alleged leader of the ‘One Order’ gang and two others were sentenced to life in prison yesterday by Supreme Court Justice Roy Jones.
Stephen ‘Die’ Stubbs, Andrew Davis and Clinton Evans were all handed down the punishment of life in prison, instead of the death penalty, as anticipated by the crown.
The trio was found guilty back in July for the 1999 murder of 23-year-old police constable Jimmy Ambrose.
Justice Jones yesterday said that despite the prosecution seeking to have the men put to death, he could not do so as he could not class it as an example of the “worst of the worst” as in the case of Kofhe Goodman, who was sentenced to death Tuesday.
The judge said, “Furthermore, although the deceased was on duty when he was shot, there is no suggestion in the evidence that he was targeted because he was a policeman in the execution of his duties.”
He added that even if he were to have found that the facts of the case were the “worst of the worst”, the fact that the crown did not signal its intent to seek the death penalty or give an indication why, is enough to not consider it as an option.
Prior to November 3rd, 2011, the penalty for murder was automatically death.
But it wasn’t until after the amendment to the Penal Code that the judge could choose between the death penalty and life.
For about two weeks, attorneys for the three men presented reasons as to why their clients’ life should be spared.
Fortunately for them, it worked.
However, all three attorneys still plan on filing an appeal.
In fact, Stubbs’ attorney Murrio Ducille said he has already done so and on 13 counts.
“The justice had no other choice but to do that,” he said, “It was either death or life, given the circumstances.”
“What we have to deal with now is the appeal in so far as the conviction is concerned. The judge’s discretion is just through sentencing them to death or life. We heard the reasoning which he gave and I agree with him as far as that is concerned because the case can never be characterized as the worst of the worst.”
He said that among the 13 grounds of appeal, the issue of identification arose.
“What was of serious concern was the whole question of circumstantial evidence. There are certain issues in the case which involves circumstantial evidence which had to be dealt with and which I’m of the view had not been dealt with at all.”
All three men appeared stoic as the sentencing was handed down.
They were also given 10 years for the attempted murder of Police Constable Marcian Scott.
Scott, a survivor of the 1999 shooting and a key witness in the trial, was murdered in 2006.
Evans was sentenced to another six years for two counts of possession of a firearm with the intent to put another in fear.
Stubbs’ mother, Natalie, who sat through the entire murder trial, maintains her son is a kind and caring young man and that anyone within the Ridgeland community can vouch for that.
“My son is not the kind of person the police is making him out to be,” she said.
“One thing I know is there’s a God above and he’s writing all the time. God doesn’t sleep. You wanna know who my son is? Go to the neighbourhood and ask them what kind of child he is. He isn’t the kind of person to shoot no police. Me and Ambrose mother, all of us went to church.”
The woman then held up a newspaper wanted clipping of a man whom she believes was the one that murdered Jimmy Ambrose.
“My son isn’t any kind of person to fight nobody or use a gun,” she said.
“Every police who meet him could speak the truth about that. Anytime they meet my son in the street and they search him, the only thing they find in his pocket is the New Testament [pocket bible]. They never found him with no drugs.”
She insists that the system has lied on her son just to put him away.
Outside the courtroom, Stubbs’ family and friends could be heard yelling, “don’t worry about this system,” and “you’re coming home soon.”
The three men were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for two counts of attempted murder back in 2002.
However, those convictions were overturned on appeal on March 8th, 2004.
All of the sentences handed down yesterday will run concurrently from the date of conviction, except for Evans’, who’s six additional years were retroactive from 2002.