Thursday, 20 October 2022 18:13

Cocoa Piece butcher given five life sentences for massacre

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Rushane Barnett has been given five concurrent life sentences, with eligibility for parole after 61 years and eight months, for the murders of his cousin and her four children in Cocoa Piece, Clarendon in June.
Barnett on July 28 pleaded guilty to the murder of 31-year-old Kemisha Wright and her children: 15-year-old Kimanda Smith, 12-year-old Sharalee Smith, five-year-old Rafaella Smith and 23-month-old Kishawn Henry.
Prior to handing down his sentence in the Home Circuit Court on Thursday morning, Justice Leighton Pusey said the matter has had some involvement of the public and so he thought it would be necessary to explain his ruling.
Justice Pusey said there are insufficient adjectives to describe the gruesome killings.
Given the seriousness of the case, the nature of the offence and the multiple murders, Justice Pusey said the starting point for Barnett would be "close to the top of the range" at 55 years without eligibility for parole.
Although Barnett had pleaded guilty early in the case, the judge noted that there had already been ample evidence pointing to him as the suspect, including his bloody knife and clothes and the fact that he had lived with the family. 
He said the brutal nature of the offence meant that any significant discount "would bring a sentence that this court could give below what would be a fair and appropriate sentence".  
The judge also noted that the fact that the death penalty was no longer being considered was already a significant benefit for Barnett.  
In outlining the sentence, Justice Pusey considered the aggravating factors including that the family was murdered in their own home, where they would have considered themselves safe; that there was a breach of trust as the accused had been welcomed into their home; the multiple wounds on each of the deceased which displays a "direct viciousness" by the accused in carrying out the attack; and that the attack was contemplated ahead of time, as Barnett had told someone that "he was going to kill some people" and indicated in his caution statement that "Ms Wright was looking at him 'a way' and so, therefore, he acted". 
Justice Pusey said he also took into consideration Barnett's lack of remorse which was commented on by the forensic psychiatrist as well as a social worker who interviewed him.  
For each of the aggravating factors, the judge said he would add two years to the time before parole, which would bring the total time before eligibility for parole to 65 years. 
But after considering the aggravating factors, Justice Pusey decided to deduct three years for each of the mitigating factors - including Barnett's early guilty plea, his lack of previous conviction, and his youth. He also deducted the four months Barnett had spent in custody, bringing the sentence to five concurrent life sentences without the possibility for parole until 61 years and eight months.     
For the entire sentencing, Justice Pusey did not mention Barnett by name. He later explained that he hopes the convict's name is forgotten and, like others who have committed similar acts, he becomes a footnote, "only remembered when we look for legal precedents". 
The judge was, however, deliberate in continuously mentioning the five deceased by name, insisting it was their lives that should be remembered.