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Dec 18, 2015

Fate of Longest-serving Inmate on Death Row Hangs in the Balance

Glenford Baptist

He is Belize’s longest-serving inmate on death row at the Belize Central Prison.  And after thirteen years behind bars, Glenford Baptist, appeared in court this morning, but still does not know how many more years he will have to remain in prison. Baptist was convicted of the murder of Azrin White in 2000, but last month his death row sentence was set aside. Today’s sentencing hearing for Baptist was no easy task for all parties involved including Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin who was concerned about Baptist’s rehabilitation. Four persons gave sworn affidavit on Baptist’s behalf; two went to court today to provide testimony. Talk show host Nuri Mohammed described him as a very sensitive and caring individual who stands out among his other inmates because of his age and maturity. He also found Baptist to be influential among other inmates and has shown signs that rehabilitation is possible.  The CJ also heard from Prison officer Brian Tillett, who said Baptist was a humble man who was so cool, he just didn’t see how he ended up in prison for murder.  Defence attorney, Priscilla Banner, wanted the court to temper mercy with justice. She submitted that Baptist’s constitutional rights were breached when he was left to sit unlawfully on death row for thirteen years.  She asked that a maximum of twenty years be imposed less thirteen already served hence he should only have to spend seven more years. The crown conceded it was inhumane and cruel for him to have spent thirteen years on death row and so he was entitled to some remedy. But attorney Trenia Young concluded to say that the court must take into consideration, the length of time he has served on death row and all the factors must be weighed against the offense he committed, which is murder, and the reason why he went to jail in the first place.  CJ Kenneth Benjamin has deferred his sentencing on Baptist for Monday, December twenty-first, 2015 after looking at all said by both sides.

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