Tue | Nov 13, 2018

10 or 20 years? - Judge promises 50% sentence reduction if man accused of fatal shooting pleads guilty

Published:Tuesday | May 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/ Senior Gleaner Writer

A St Andrew man accused of fatally shooting Elaine Lawrence in the face as she tried to defend her daughter has been given until 4 p.m. tomorrow to decide if he wants to plead guilty to non-capital murder and serve a 10-year prison sentence.

However, Justice Vivienne Harris, in giving the sentence indication, warned accused killer Christopher Johnson that he would have to spend 20 years in prison if he elected to go to trial and was convicted.

The proposed 10-year sentence would take into account the four years Johnson had already spent in custody after he was arrested and charged in 2010 then released on bail in 2014. The incident occurred on January 16, 2000.

"This sentence will be available until 4 o'clock on Wednesday [tomorrow]. After that, it's off the table," she said in the Home Circuit Court, where Johnson was scheduled to go on trial yesterday.

Grenyon also sought to have his client plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, but that was quickly shut down by Justice Harris, who cited the allegations against him. Perusing a witness statement that is among the evidence in the case, the judge revealed that the daughter of the slain woman accused Johnson of beating her up in the community of Arnett Gardens.

According to the woman's account, she went and complained to her mother, who decided to confront Johnson.

"Her mother went to speak to him and she said that she saw when he [Johnson] reached for his right side, pulled out a gun, pointed it to her [mother's] face and shoot two times," the judge quoted from the statement.

Grenyon, however, argued that the daughter of the slain woman said "some things" to his client. "She was dissin' [disrespecting] him and dissin' him big time," the attorney told the court.

But Harris was unmoved. "A life is gone and cannot be replaced," she said.

Johnson is to appear in court tomorrow.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com