Twenty-one-year-old Orin Rodrigues yesterday learned that he would be spending the next 30 years of his life behind bars for the killings of his stepsister and nephew, both of whom he knifed to death.
At the High Court in Georgetown, Justice Brassington Reynolds sentenced Rodrigues to 30 years in jail for each of the two counts of manslaughter but ordered that the sentences run concurrently.
Two weeks ago, Rodrigues denied charges of murder, for which he was initially indicted, but pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter, accepting that on November 30, 2013, at Moblissa, Linden-Soesdyke High-way, he unlawfully killed Molly James and her 15-year-old son Aaron James.
His sentencing was deferred for a probation report, which was presented to the court yesterday.
Molly and her family were asleep when Rodrigues, armed with a knife, entered the home at 12.30 am and dealt her several stabs about her body. During the attack, Aaron went to his mother’s aid, only to be attacked as well.
Prosecutors had said that Rodrigues’ actions were precipitated by a rape complaint against him. It was the state’s case that a 13-year-old girl had complained to Molly of him allegedly raping her.
According to prosecutors, after the woman reported the alleged sexual assault to the police, an enraged Rodrigues launched the attack.
Begging for mercy yesterday, Rodrigues, in his address to the court, said he was sorry for his actions and wished he could have brought Molly and Aaron back. He went on to tell Justice Reynolds that he has love for their family, no ill feelings and prays for them.
Echoing these sentiments was his attorney, Maxwell McKay, who asked the court to consider his client’s remorse and admission of guilt at the first given opportunity.
He begged the court to also consider that his client, a school dropout, was only 17 years old at the time of the killings and lacked rational thinking capabilities, which were compounded by poor literacy and numeracy skills, to which the probation report alluded.
Counsel said his client has since been enlisted in remedial classes offered by the prisons, and participates in the sport of boxing, which he says indicates Rodrigues’ willingness to be disciplined.
He added, too, that his client has exhibited exemplary behaviour while in prison.
However, the probation officer told the court that notwithstanding Rodrigues’ remorse and the description of him as being a quiet and humble person, it must impose punishment to send a strong message to society that errant behaviours will not be condoned.
She said an interview with the family of the deceased revealed the still-evident pain being suffered from the death of their loved ones. The officer told the court that after the death of their mother, the surviving children suffered another blow when they lost their father, who was killed in a vehicular accident.
The court heard that the distraught man, who began drinking excessively after the death of his wife, later died in an accident.
The probation officer said that more needs to be done for remote communities such as Moblissa, where excessive consumption of alcohol seems to be the norm, leading she said, to devastating results.
She noted that the convict himself was a habitual drinker.
Justice Reynolds described the killings as a tragedy caused by what he said is a “lack of penetration of social services in remote communities.” He added that because of the incident, both families have been left distraught.
The judge pondered on how different the situations may have been had the young Rodrigues been able to remain in school.
The probation officer had said that Rodrigues’ family lacked the financial means to keep him in school and, as a result, he left and began farming with his mother to help support his younger siblings.
Justice Reynolds said it is never easy to have to impose a sentence, more so on young offenders, but reminded that “this is all about justice and two lives have gone to waste.
After considering both the mitigating and aggravating circumstances of the case, the judge sentenced Rodrigues.
The judge said he had initially considered a sentence of life imprisonment, but decided to be guided by the World Health Organi-zation’s life expectancy index for men (2015), which puts the figure for Guyana at 63 years, six months.
The judge then applied his formula, noting that in 42 years, Rodrigues would be 63 years old. He therefore started sentencing at a base of 42 years and deducted five years for Rodrigues’ guilty plea, four years for the time he has been incarcerated awaiting trial, and an additional three years for his remorse and all the circumstances of the case.
As a result Rodrigues was sentenced to 30 years on each count.
The state’s case was presented by Prosecutor Tiffini Lyken, in association with Shawnettte Austin and Lisa Cave.