Appeal Court Out of Control?

Anthony Clarke Sr (47) of Mount Pleasant Village, who was sentenced to death for a “contract killing” will challenge his murder conviction and punishment to the Court of Appeal in three months.

In a hearing on Wednesday, before Justices Anita Allen, Stanley John and Abdulai Conteh, Clarke was granted an extension of time and was told that his appeal would be heard in February 2014.

Clarke applied to the Court for an extension of time, after missing the 21-day deadline to appeal his murder conviction and death sentence.

He was convicted of murdering Aleus Tilus on September 16, 2011.

Clarke allegedly told police that he was paid “a lot of money” by a man, who was not named, to kill Tilus, because of an ongoing dispute before the Labour Board, concerning Tilus’s employer.

Why the police did not prosecute the man who ordered and paid for the hit is not clear, but probably has to do with the man’s status in society.

Thanks to a gaggle of corrupt police officers, lawyers, court employees and even judges… in The Bahamas, one can get away with murder – or any other crime – if they know the right people or have the right political connections.

Yet, Bahamians continue to wonder why crime is so out-of-control in the country.

In Clarke’s case, the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict and the prosecution indicated the Crown’s intention to seek the death penalty.

After considering submissions from the prosecution and defence attorneys – and the probation and psychiatric reports – on October 10, Senior Justice Jon Isaacs agreed to the Crown’s request to sentence Clarke to death for Tilus’s murder.

But now that sentence may be overturned, despite the appeal  not even being filed on time, by an Appeal Court that is increasingly losing the respect of the Bahamian public.

Meanwhile, in another hearing before the same panel of judges, a 20-year-old man has been granted the opportunity to challenge his conviction and sentence for a home invasion robbery that turned deadly.

James Mombranche of Winder’s Terrace was convicted in February 2012 in connection with the murder of 28-year-old Charles Chrysotome.

Mombranche was found guilty along with Rodney Johnson, 21, of Garden Hills; and Ricardo Brown, 24, of Gilbert Street.

The three men had broken into Chrysotome’s Domingo Heights apartment with the intent to rob him on the night of February 28, 2011.  When things didn’t go according to their plan, Mombranche shot and killed the victim, a phone card vendor.

The three were unanimously convicted by a jury.

But they too, get another chance at escaping punishment thanks to the Appeal Court.

In other news, Max Tido, the unrepentant murderer who brutally raped and bludgeoned 16-year-old Donnell Connover to death in June, 2002, was also given an opportunity to challenge his sentence by the Appeal Court.  This, despite the fact that Tido was once sentenced to death… before the Privy Council decided that his crime didn’t warrant the death penalty.

These nonsense appeals clog the legal system, waste the court’s resources and cost the taxpayers money.

It’s “Better in The Bahamas” alright… for murderers anyways.