Akeem Thurton sentenced for shooting S.C. Rodwell Williams Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 04 April 2012 00:00

Akeen ThurtonOn May 31, 2010, 19-year- old Akeem Thurton was found guilty of the attempted murder of SC, Rodwell Williams in the first trial by judge in Belize. Since then, the Chief Justice, Kenneth A. Benjamin commissioned a Social Report to determine the young man’s background before sentencing.

After receiving the report, Chief Justice Benjamin passed sentence on Friday, March, 30. After reviewing the report, it was determined that Thurton has never been before a court on other criminal offenses nor did he have any previous convictions. At the sentencing, relatives cried when he was handed down a 15-year sentence for the attempted murder of Rodwell Williams.

His grandmother could not hold back her emotions when she heard the 15-years sentence imposed and cried out loud as she watched her grandson being taken away in cuffs by the police.  His mother, Lorraine Thurton, who spoke with us, says that she expected the huge sentence, although she believes her son did not get a fair trial.   As a single mother with 6 children, it was difficult for her to get an attorney for her son due to her financial status.  But appealing the case is what she intends to do and has since sought the assistance of two attorneys.  She said that finance prevented her from getting an attorney before the trial and the fact that it appeared no attorney wanted to do the case given the circumstances.

In court, Chief Justice Benjamin cited various reasons for the time imposed.  He took an hour to explain the determining factors for the sentence.He first asked Thurton if he had any character witnesses to call, but Thurton said he had none.  He then noted to the court that a Social Report was before his court about Thurton’s background, which was provided by the Department of Human Services.  The report showed that Thurton had no previous convictions.  When asked if he had anything to say he said, “My Lord, they are chancing me.  I am not happy with this my Lord.”

The Social report encompassed several factors including details of Thurton and his family’s structure. It showed that he lived with his grandmother and grandfather and mother all in the same house. It also showed that he is a fisherman and that he left school very early and at one point was transferred from Saint John’s Primary School to attend St. Mary’s School but that he only remained at that school for a day before bringing his primary school education to an end. The report showed that his literacy was at the level of a child between the age of 7 to 9. The report also showed that Thurton was an accomplished footballer and that he had skills. The social Services personnel spoke with his teacher and football mentors, who all spoke well of Thurton.

The report also looked at the impact of the attempt on Williams’ life and how it had affected his family. It shared the outcome of an interview with Williams and his wife. It was noted that when Williams’ wife did not want to recall the ordeal of her husband. The CJ’s said that this told him how great the impact of the incident was. Rodwell Williams also spoke of the events in the aftermath of May 31, 2010. Williams said that he was like a child.  He had to learn how to walk, eat and drink again, having to be fed through a tube. Williams said that although he has no illness as a result of the injury, he had sustained, there is the likelihood that he will develop a kidney disease.  He said that he is like an egg shell. The slightest things which happen can affect him greatly. Williams also shared that since the shooting incident, he now has a body guard.

After going over the report, the CJ passed the 15-year sentence; he considered that Thurton was a family man, that he is young, and is an accomplished footballer, which means that he was not a person just idling himself. The CJ also said, “Everyone in Belize City knows that whatever sentence we issue, that it’s a message sent out there because we do not like the gang violence which we are subjected to.”   The CJ also was stern when he said, “If you had to lay wait him for one and a half hours, that’s premeditated murder.”  He also said, “There was no evidence to show that there was any prior misunderstanding between Thurton and Williams.  There has been no reason yet why Williams was shot but for sure there was no disagreement with you (Thurton) and him.  This tells us that maybe this was a murder for hire or that someone paid you for some reason.  You have always put forward your innocence and I will not use the absence of remorse against you.  You have the right to appeal. This is a planned exercise that resulted in very serious injuries to Williams. You are not qualified for the maximum sentence”.