Zaleena Whittington was yesterday sentenced to eight years in prison by Justice Navindra Singh, for the 2013 killing of her landlord, Azad Ghanie.
Initially indicted for the capital offence, Whittington pleaded not guilty, but accepted guilt on the lesser count of manslaughter.
The charge against her stated that on May 27, 2013, at Vergenoegen, East Bank Essequibo, she unlawfully killed Ghanie.
The charge was read repeatedly to Whittington who told the court that she did not hear too well. Despite several attempts by the registrar speaking louder, the accused indicated that she was still having difficulty hearing.
Her attorney, Debra Kumar, explained to the court that her client has a hearing impairment. She said the woman was able to decipher what she said to her, “by reading my lips.”
Justice Singh said that the court would not record the woman’s guilty plea unless he was satisfied that she knew and understood exactly what she was doing. He then invited the accused and counsel on both sides to approach the bench.
He loudly read and explained the charge to the woman, who thereafter nodded in the affirmative, when asked whether it was her decision to plead guilty to manslaughter. Asked whether anyone had forced her to plead to the charge. The woman said no.
She then explained to the judge what occurred on the day in question, but because she now stood closer to the judge and had no reason to speak loudly, what she said could not be heard by persons sitting in the public gallery. After her explanation, the court said it would accept the woman’s plea.
Justice Singh then informed Whittington that she would be sentenced to eight years behind bars, ordering prison authorities to deduct the four years she had already spent on remand. Police had said in a press release that around 20:30 hrs on the day in question, the body of the 64-year-old landlord was found in his home with injuries to his head.
A neighbour had recalled hearing Ghanie hollering “neighbour, neighbour” but said she thought that he was probably having a nightmare and did not make a fuss about it.
It was not until the police arrived at the house that she and other neighbours realized that something was wrong.