Convicted killer to spend another year in prison

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds.

A MAN who murdered his 16-year-old cousin in 2002 while high on drugs and listening to heavy metal rock music will not be released at this time.

On Tuesday, Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds said there was no justification for releasing Marcus Jason Daniel on licences before the expiration of a 25-year minimum term set by the Court of Appeal in 2014.The Appeal Court quashed his murder conviction and substituted it with a verdict of manslaughter.

When he first approached the Court of Appeal after he was sentenced to hang on December 15, 2005, the court dismissed the appeal, with the matter being heard at the Privy Council in London.

The British law lords subsequently remitted the matter to the local Court of Appeal in 2008 for resentencing after hearing evidence from three clinical and forensic psychiatrists that Daniel suffered from borderline personality disorder and satisfied the criteria for alcohol- and drug-induced psychosis.

The law lords had ruled the diagnosis raised a credible defence of diminished responsibility and should have been raised at the trial.

Daniel testified at his trial he was high on drugs and listening to heavy metal rock music when he stabbed his cousin, Suzette Gibson, to death on January 23, 2002.

At his resentencing hearing on Tuesday, Ramsumair-Hinds said there was no reason to depart from the 25-year minimum imposed by the Appeal Court. She also said his incarceration, so far, was just under 21 years. 

She has ordered another review for November 28, 2024. He will continue serving his sentence at a prison facility until he returns to court next year.

The judge referred to an assessment by psychiatrist Dr Dominic Nwokolo for the sentencing review.

Nwokolo testified before the judge in 2022. The judge said Daniel has had no form of treatment since 2014, although he has been kept at the St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital since 2014.

He was said to be still showing character traits of lying and manipulative behaviour. She also said the officials at the hospital said they have been unable to treat him and have not done so. He has attacked staff at the hospital and has tried to escape twice.

She also said Daniel remained a high risk to the community but “low or moderate” in a structured setting.

There was no consideration of his diagnosis, but she noted efforts by the Public Defenders Department to secure the services of a private psychiatrist for an assessment in time for his next review. 

The judge acknowledged his efforts at reading, writing and gardening and has ordered that he should be allowed to participate in programmes available in the prison for the next year.

At her next sentencing review, the judge hopes to have from the prison authorities a detailed report on his behaviour and his response to the programmes and religious and moral teaching.

She has also ordered an updated probation officer’s report and hopes to get a proposal on his living arrangements if he is released from custody.

In December 2005, Daniel and a friend were convicted of murdering Gibson. 

Daniel was sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for murder and his friend was detained at the court’s pleasure, as he was a minor at the time of Gibson’s murder. 

According to the evidence presented during his trial, hours before the murder, Daniel and his friend picked up Gibson after her dance class ended. 

They drove to a lonely area in Blue Basin and started touching Gibson, who rejected Daniel’s advances.

He claimed, “The demon thing rose up inside him, and he choked her.” He also admitted he was drinking and “getting into rock music.”

He and his co-accused pulled her out of the car, and he slit her throat. When she fell to the ground, he stabbed her in the chest and stomach and pushed her into a drain before Daniel slit the fingers of his right hand.

The man who lent Daniel his car went to the police station because he saw bloodstains in it. His co-accused took the police to Gibson’s body and said it was Daniel alone who “kill the girl.”

“Is Marcus who take a knife and slit she throat.”

He also told the police that “it was a demon inside my head.”

Daniel also gave evidence at his trial. He said he did not know what he was doing.

“I was seeing a dark object in front of me, and I did not know what it was.  I was not seeing or hearing Suzette in front of me.”

He also spoke of smoking “blacks,” which are marijuana cigarettes rolled with crack cocaine and was “very high” on alcohol and drugs. 

His defence was that because he was so intoxicated by drink, drugs and heavy rock music,  he did not know what he was doing.

Daniel was represented by deputy chief public defender Raphael Morgan. Charmaine Samuel represented the State.