Crime — 24 June 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks
Court of Appeal will impose reduced sentence for Lavern Longsworth’s murder conviction

Lavern “Anti-Christ” Longsworth, 40, who was convicted of the July 2010 murder of her common-law husband David White and is serving a life sentence in prison, appeared in the Court of Appeal today, where she was expecting to be handed a new sentence.

But the sentencing has been put off until next week Friday, when the three Justices of Appeal will determine what sentence to impose on Longsworth.

Her attorneys, Godfrey Smith, S.C., and Leslie Mendez, did not agree with the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, who felt that a ten-year sentence was appropriate.

Mendez, however, wanted Longworth’s sentence to be the three and a half years that she has already served.

DPP Vidal, however, rejected that suggestion, saying that the imposition of a sentence for time already served would be an affront to justice. The DPP suggested that she serve a ten-year sentence.

The Court of Appeal is considering what sentence to impose on Longsworth after her lead attorney, Smith, adduced fresh, new expert evidence at the appeal of her murder conviction.

According to the affidavit of Doctor Gillian Mezey, a British forensic psychiatrist who examined Longsworth last February, she is suffering from “Battered Woman’s Syndrome.” Dr. Mezey’s finding is also supported by Dr. Amy Jex, a Belizean psychologist.

With Battered Woman’s Syndrome as its centerpiece, the Lavern Longsworth appeal case is precedent-setting, because the experts found that at the time when she committed the murder, Longsworth had diminished responsibility due to her clinical condition, a defense that other women in a similar situation will now be able to rely on.

Before the court decided to hand down its decision on the sentence next Friday, Appeal Justice Dennis Morrison, who heard the appeal along with Appeal Justices Minnet Hafiz and Samuel Awich, said, “It’s a unique case and we would like to be very careful about what we do.”

After the hearing, attorney Leslie Mendez told reporters that, “We believe that there are some serious, substantial and numerous mitigating factors in Ms. Longworth’s case, which puts it in the realm of an exceptional case which necessitates leniency of the time that we suggested, which is in accordance with the time served.”

Mendez added, “We certainly appreciate that the taking of a life is a serious offense, and it should be regarded and treated as a serious offense before the courts. However, it must also be judged in the overall circumstances of the case, and Ms. Longsworth is not getting away free in accordance with our submissions; she has served 3 years and 6 months and other battered women have also been sentenced to 3 years and 4 months, 5 years, and 7 years in other jurisdictions, and therefore, we do not believe that it is an effrontery of justice.”

Lavern “Anti-Christ” Longsworth was convicted of the murder of David White in November 2012. White died in the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital while undergoing treatment two weeks after he was set on fire in the couple’s Castle Street home.

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