Guilty, guilty, guilty. This was the verdict for Prince Hepburn after the 12-member jury convicted him for the murder of Nelly Mae Brown-Cox, which occurred in 2011. The ghastly details of this case still linger in the hearts and minds of many Bahamians who read the stories of this brutal attack and who heard witness testimony as the trial resumed.
The evidence suggested that some of her fingers were chopped off and that she was hacked to death with a cutlass. It seems as if when Hepburn killed Brown-Cox, his desire was for overkill. He wanted to make a statement to her and indeed the country. He absolutely did.
The gruesome murder of Brown-Cox is in some ways similar to the murder case involving Maxo Tido. We remember how Tido burned the body of a teenage girl and bludgeoned her head. This case sparked much debate because of the heinous nature of the crime. Tido was also found guilty of murder. He was the first person convicted of murder after the Privy Council made a landmark decision in 2006 outlawing automatic death sentences for murder in The Bahamas. The Privy Council made another landmark decision by overturning his death sentence because it said that this was not “the worst of the worst”. He eventually received over 50 years for his crime. In this instance I believe the attorney general’s (AG’s) office fulfilled its mandate, but the highest court of the land had the final say.
Now the AG’s office has said that it will not seek the death penalty for Hepburn, who seemed to surpass the grisly nature of the act of murder as compared to Maxo Tido. Hepburn appeared to have acted in premeditation because his weapon of choice was engraved with custom markings. He could not fathom his girlfriend sleeping with another man and being unfaithful to him. Hepburn’s crime seems to be in the category of the worst of the worst.
I am not a big fan of the Privy Council’s rulings as it relates to overturning death sentences, but I do appreciate the fact that it has the last say when it comes to appeals in The Bahamas. This is the law of the land and the law must prevail. But for the AG’s office, in my view, to not fully represent the people and not seek the death penalty for Hepburn is inexplicable. What precedent are we setting for the victims of these crimes? Does the AG’s office believe it to be a waste of time to seek the death penalty because of the past rulings of the Privy Council?
On what basis did the AG’s office decide not to seek the death penalty in this case? The lead prosecutor declined to be interviewed after the verdict was read. This is unacceptable and I contend very provocative. Yes, the people’s representative did not even address the media. He should have given an explanation for this decision so at the very least it could be scrutinized by the public or set a date when this will happen.
The AG’s office must fully carry out its mandate and that is to serve at the behest of the people of The Bahamas. There has to be more accountability from this office and any shades of gray should be eliminated.
By: Dehavilland Moss