Defense attorneys plead with court for milder sentences

POSTED: 11/25/11 12:38 PM

“Scientifically, I could say that my client is insane”

St. Maarten – The attorneys for Regatta-murder suspects Curtley Allison R. and Sherwan R. pleaded with the court yesterday morning to leave their clients some perspective and refrain from imposing a sentence of life imprisonment. Judge mr. M. Keppels will pronounce her verdict on December 14.

The attorneys did not rehash the details of the eight crimes the defendants are charged with because they were extensively discussed during the trial’s first round on Wednesday, when the prosecution demanded life sentences against both men. The charges against them include the murders of Ludovic Guillevin, Eduardo Nova Valdez and Foidel Luis, rape and several armed robberies.

mr. Shaira Bommel told the court that her client Sherwan R. has a personality disorder and that he is not fully responsible for his actions. “He confessed his involvement with all crimes; he is not a denying suspect. He opened up during the trial. But the behavioral expert established that my client has a serious personality disorder, and possibly a psychotic disorder. That could explain what he did.”

mr. Bommel said that her client had not chosen to have the disorder. “But it has had a major influence on his actions, and that had to be taken into consideration for his punishment.”

The attorney referred to an agreement with the Netherlands about forensic treatment. “Also for very serious crimes defendants must have a perspective on a return to society. A life sentence leads to make his psychological condition worse and it will stand in the way of treatment. I ask the court to sentence my client to lengthy treatment in combination with a prison term.”

mr. Geert Hatzmann conceded to the court that the evidence against his client Curtley R. is overwhelming. “The extensive discussion of the case yesterday does justice to the victims,” he said, adding that he did not feel the need to go into the details again. “It is almost obscene to stand here and defend this client. I stand here with a heavy heart.”

mr. Hatzmann said that he was surprised by the psychologist’s conclusion that his client is fully responsible for his actions. “He also had an IQ below 69. Scientifically I could say that he is insane. It is incomprehensible that this has never been detected in his youth. In countries more developed than Dominica he would have been in an assisted-living project and he would work in a sheltered workshop.”

The attorney pointed out that Curtley R. committed his crimes under the influence of alcohol. “He is insane and one could ask whether he has a conscience.”

mr. Hatzmann illustrated his argument by referring to a remark Curtley R. made in court on Wednesday when the judge asked him how he felt after he had learned about Ludovic Guillevin’s death. “I am not pleased, I feel funny, he said. That says everything. He has hardly any feelings.”

The crime victims and their families are entitled to revenge, mr. Hatzmann said. “There is also prevention to consider. This must never happen again. But in front of you sits a pathetic human being who did not choose to be the way he is. Society has failed to filter him out.”

mr. Hatzmann asked the court to weigh all interests that are at stake. “He should go to prison for a long time, but he is insane. I think that he should not be locked up for life and that he ought to be left with some perspective.”

Prosecutor mr. Bart den Hartigh said that Sherwan R.’s personality disorder did not have a large impact on his actions. “And his state of diminished responsibility does not stand in the way of a life sentence. These crimes cannot be dealt with in any other way than with a life sentence. The risk that these defendants will commit more crimes is too big.”

mr. Den Hartigh conceded that there is an agreement with the Kingdom about placing inmates elsewhere, but that the legislation that makes it possible to put convicts at the government’s disposal (tbs) does not exist in St. Maarten.

Prosecutor mr. M.L.P. Ridderbeks said that mr. Hatzmann is not a behavioral expert and that he therefore cannot present the conclusion that his client is insane. She described Curtley R. as manipulative. “His behavior does not match his low IQ-score. Nothing is easier than manipulating the outcome of an IQ-test. He does not seem to function on the insanity-level. As far as the public prosecutor’s office is concerned he is not entitled to return to society a free man.”

During Wednesday’s trial, Curtley R. gave the court a glimpse into his real state of mind when he literally said, “I am not computer-literate.” Observers have noted that such an expression is highly unusual for somebody with a supposedly low IQ that borders on insanity.

At the end of yesterday’s hearing both defendants expressed regrets for their crimes, but these statements were met with cynical reactions from the public tribune, where family members of murder-victim Foidel Luis followed the procedures. Curtley R. even said, “I do not know how to apologize. I will put my organs at the disposal of the victims and their families if they ever need them.”

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