Ethan Calistro will be spending the next decade behind bars for the fatal stabbing of a man when he was only 15-years-old.
Appearing before Justice Sandil Kissoon at the High Court in Georgetown yesterday morning, Calistro, now 18, pleaded not guilty to a charge that he murdered Leroy Moore but admitted guilt on the lesser count of manslaughter.
He accepted that he unlawfully killed Moore – 21 at the time – between July 18th and July 19th, 2015 at a bar at Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara. He was pronounced dead at the Diamond Diagnostic Centre.
Presenting the state’s case, Prosecutor Abigail Gibbs said that on July 18th, Moore, in the company of other men, was liming at the bar where the then 15-year-old Calistro and a group of friends were also liming.
Owing to Moore at some point speaking with a young lady at the bar, Gibbs said Calistro, who became angry, verbally engaged Moore, on whom he subsequently pulled a knife.
The court heard that this then led to the accused and his friends being ordered to leave the bar, which they did.
Gibbs said that sometime after, Moore and his friends also left the bar and headed in the direction of Soesdyke, where at some point they again encountered Calistro and his friends. It was at this point, she said, that the accused and Moore got into a scuffle, during which Moore was stabbed twice with a knife.
The mortally wounded man was later rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy revealed that he died from perforation of the heart and lungs due to stab wounds.
In an impassioned plea in mitigation, defence attorney George Thomas asked the court to consider that his client was at the “tender” age of 15 at the time of the incident, while the deceased—being in his early 20s—was much older.
While noting that his client was not excusing his actions and had taken full responsibility for the consequences of those actions, Thomas begged the court to also consider that Calistro had left the bar when asked to so do, but was presumably thereafter pursued by Moore and friends.
Counsel said it is undisputed that alcohol was involved. He asked the court to be lenient with his client, while advancing that he has potential of rehabilitation and was a first-time offender. He asked the court to also consider that the young man “had been pursued” and had been defending himself.
Given a chance to speak, Calistro, in a barely audible tone, said that he was sorry for what had occurred, while begging the judge to have mercy on him.
For her part, however, the prosecutor said that while the circumstances were unfortunate, as it led to two mothers being left without sons—due to a loss of life in one instance and the imprisonment of another—Calistro must face the consequences of his actions.
Pointing out also that he was only 15 at the time of the killing and not having the benefits of a sound education, Gibbs said it is the state’s hope that the teen will use his time behind bars to reflect on his actions, so that upon his release he does not ever again find himself in a similar situation.
Before imposing sentence, Justice Kissoon said that he had considered both the mitigating and aggravating circumstances of the case. He pointed out the part alcohol played in the culmination of the events of July 18th as well as what he said was the “undisputed” fact that the accused had left the bar when asked to so do.
The judge said that “whether by design or coincidence,” both groups again encountered each other later that night, which eventually led to a life being lost.
The judge commenced Calistro’s sentence at a base of 25 years, from which he deducted a third for Calistro’s guilty plea, which saved the court considerable time in otherwise having to conduct a trial.
From the remaining 16 years 16 months, three years were deducted for time spent on remand and another 3 years 6 months from the remainder of 13 years 16 months were further deducted for all the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the case.
The judge then informed Calistro that he would be sentenced to 10 years in jail.