A man was on Thursday sentenced to life imprisonment after he was convicted of killing his cousin amid a property dispute in Lowe River, Trelawny six years ago.
The convict, Abejay Powell, alias ‘Teron’, with the assistance of another man, buried his cousin on the property and later confessed to his then girlfriend that he committed the act because he felt threatened that his cousin wanted to “run him out a him house”.
Powell was found guilty by a six-member jury in the Trelawny Circuit Court earlier this month for murdering his cousin, Otis Patrick, alias ‘Rooney’, of Albion Mountain, St Mary, in March 2017.
Powell’s co-accused, Oniel Demetrius, escaped from the Falmouth Police Station lockup in April 2018, and remains on the run.
The sentencing hearing was transferred to the St James Circuit Court on Thursday, where presiding Judge, Justice Andrea Thomas, ordered Powell to serve 29 years in prison before being eligible for parole consideration.
Before sentencing, a victim impact statement said Patrick’s father lamented that since the killing of his son, his health has been negatively impacted, he has been losing sleep, and he continues to be devastated by the murder.
Another family member, according to a statement from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), said he has not been able to sleep and has resorted to unhealthy habits.
The allegations, as outlined by the ODPP, are that on Saturday, March 25, 2017, Patrick left his home in St Mary for Lowe River district, Trelawny, where he was expected to oversee the construction of a perimeter for a two-storey house.
Powell resided at the house and was the caretaker of the property.
However, the house belonged to Powell’s uncle (who was Patrick’s cousin) who resided in England.
The prosecution led evidence that Powell was unaware that Patrick was to commence work at the property.
Another cousin left Patrick in the company of Powell and another man on the day the former arrived from St Mary.
Patrick was not seen alive again.
A missing person’s report was filed on April 5, 2017 for Patrick at the Port Maria Police Station in St Mary, and an investigation was launched.
Over the next few weeks leading up to his arrest, Powell denied knowing his cousin’s whereabouts, but tried to sell his (Patrick’s) cell phone to his then spouse and her cousin.
Powell eventually confessed to his then spouse in April of that year, that he used a gun to shoot Patrick in the head, and he and another man placed the body outside the house until the next day, when they buried it.
He further told his then girlfriend what was tantamount to, “The boy (Patrick) come deh a gwaan like him wah tek over and run him out a him house.”
Powell was arrested on May 25, 2017, and five days later, Patrick’s decomposed body was exhumed from a shallow grave in the home.
But Powell gave the police a different story on now his cousin was killed, than the account he reportedly gave to his then girlfriend.
He said three men who seemed to be friends of the deceased from Ocho Rios, St Ann, came to the house and one used a gun to shoot Patrick.
Powell claimed that he was threatened and forced to bury the body, and he eventually did so.
“When asked who accompanied him to bury the body, the accused said it was him alone,” the ODPP stated.
It was Powell who showed the police where in the yard he had buried his cousin.
On May 30, 2017, at about 2pm, police dug up an area near a concrete tank in the yard in Lowe River district in the presence of Powell.
“The (then) accused was able to show the police where the head of the body was positioned to his feet underground,” said the ODPP.
Patrick’s decomposed body was found dressed in a blue pants and white shirt, along with several other items of clothing which were also buried underground.
A post-mortem that was conducted revealed that the cause of death was due to a gunshot wound to the head.