Man guilty of killing ex-wife sentenced to hang

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds. –

Willand Mitchell has been convicted of killing his ex-wife at her workplace in San Fernando in 2010.

On Tuesday, he was sentenced to hang for the murder of Sabrina Lalla-Mitchell on October 26, 2010, at Bavarian Motors on Todd Street, San Fernando.

A 12-member San Fernando jury spent two hours deliberating on their verdict after receiving directions from the trial judge, Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds at the O’Meara Judicial Centre in Arima.

After the foreman said, “Guilty,” there was a brief pause before the judge read out the death sentence.

“Willand Mitchell, a jury of your peers has found you guilty of murder. You shall be taken to a lawful prison where you shall suffer death by hanging. May God have mercy on your soul.”

In her summation, Ramsumair-Hinds used the recent ruling of the Court of Appeal on the partial defence of provocation as raised in Mitchell’s defence.

He testified at the trial, saying he felt hurt and lost when his ex-wife told him the relationship was going nowhere despite them being divorced for months. Mitchell said his ex-wife told him she was “fed up” and that their relationship was going nowhere and she wanted to move on as she was not in love with him anymore.

“I felt very hurt.” He also said Lalla-Mitchell threatened to take their children and prevent him from seeing them.

He said he was of the opinion they were getting back together as they continued to do activities as a family.

Mitchell claimed her words hit him “like a ton of bricks” and he lost it that day. He also said he did not recall stabbing her.

On the day of the incident, Mitchell said he picked up their sons from school and was on his way to drop them at her parents’ home when she called and asked him to drop them at her workplace.

When he did, he said Lalla-Mitchell met him outside by his car. He said all he remembered was leaving Bavarian Motors after getting in his car and driving away. He said he was heading to La Romaine where he was renting an apartment in a crime-infested area and when he got to a traffic light, he was intercepted by police.

“I don’t recall anything else…,” he said. He did remember waking up in the hospital but not any of his alleged interactions with the police.

At his trial, only one witness, the police officer who charged him with his ex-wife’s murder, testified in person.

The other testimony in the case was in the form of statements which were read to the jury. These included statements from the couple’s sons, Seth and Shaydon, who witnessed their mother’s death as well as Lalla-Mitchell’s co-workers who were also at the showroom when the incident took place.

Jurors were also shown closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the stabbing of Lalla-Mitchell, 34, in the car dealership’s showroom.

Seth’s statement said his father threatened to stab anyone who intervened before stabbing his mother again and using the knife to cut himself.

He said he saw his mother on the floor, heard her scream and saw his father stab her. He also said he heard his father say, “Two ah we going to die today.” He, too, spoke of seeing his father cut his writs and stab himself in the stomach before turning the knife back on his mother. He said their father pushed Seth away, get into his car, and threw the knife into the back seat before driving off.

Lalla-Mitchell’s co-workers said they he saw when the estranged couple entered the showroom and heard when she screamed out. One said he saw Mitchell stab her and heard him talk about reconciling while making threats,” You and me going down.”

He also spoke of the couple’s son’s pleas to his father.

Lalla-Mitchell was stabbed multiple times. She suffered massive blood loss and also had defensive wounds. Two of her ten stab wounds were fatal, an autopsy report said.

Mitchell was represented by public defenders Stephen Wilson and Tamika Peters. Stacy Laloo Chung and Rebecca Trim Wright prosecuted.