By Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter
POLICEWOMAN VIRIS Christie was yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 25-year-old Natasha Stephens, cosmetologist, of Hope Road, Kingston 6 who was involved in a love affair with Christie's Nigerian husband.
"This is really a brutal murder," Justice Kay Beckford said while recommending that Christie serve 35 years before she is eligible for parole. The 12-member jury retired for only 95 minutes before returning a unanimous verdict that Christie was guilty of non-capital murder.
HUNG HER HEAD
Christie, 33, hung her head as the judge chastised her for the crime she had committed. "You are sworn to protect not to destroy," the judge reminded her. The judge told her that the jury found her guilty of the offence and the court must show its abhorrence of that sort of crime.
The judge said she took into account the evidence of Christie's good character but must take into account the suffering that "will be inflicted" on Stephens' child who was left without a mother and was unlikely to have a father. "I trust where you are going you will be able to devote some time to self improvement," Justice Beckford added.
The Crown represented by Paula Llewellyn, Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and Simone Wolfe, Crown Counsel, led evidence at the three-week trial in the Home Circuit Court that Stephens was murdered between September 20 and 21, 1999. The body with seven gunshot wounds was found under the Portmore Causeway about 7 a.m. on September 21.
Evidence was given that the spent shells found at the crime scene came from Christie's 9mm semi automatic pistol which was assigned to her to keep and carry. The Crown said the motive for the murder was jealousy because Stephen was having a love affair with Christie's Nigerian husband.
Christie gave an unsworn statement from the dock, denying that she had anything to do with the murder. She called Linton Lewis who supported her alibi that they were together from about 6:00 p.m. on September 20, 1999 to about 7:00 a.m. on September 21, when she dropped him at his workplace and then drove to her office. She said she was shot and injured about 7:00 p.m. on September 21, 1999 as she was about to enter her apartment.
"I do not know who shot me but it is now clear to me that whoever shot and killed that girl also shot me as they thought I would have died then the case would appear to have been solved but thank God I am alive to defend my reputation," she said. She denied she was jealous of her husband as she had only married Osagie Odiase, also called 'Confidence' in May 1996 to help him out with his immigration status.