BELIZE CITY, Thurs. May 19, 2016–A 22-year-old man, Devaughan Goodger, who has been on remand for murder since he was a 17-year-old minor, learned his fate today when Supreme Court Justice Adolph Lucas sentenced him to 12 years in prison after he aborted his murder trial on the advice of his attorney last week and pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
In sentencing Goodger, Justice Lucas noted he had already spent 5 years and 2 months behind bars, so that time has been deducted from the 12-year sentence. The sentence is to take effect from today, Justice Lucas stipulated.
Goodger was remanded to prison for the March 5, 2011 murder of Belize Defence Force (BDF) top recruit, Jason Pott, 27, a father of two children whom he stabbed once in the heart on Cleghorn Street.
The trial of Goodger for murder began in the Supreme Court of Justice Lucas last week Wednesday, May 11, but after the first day of testimony, Goodger returned to court the following day and decided to accept the advice of his attorney, Bryan Neal, rather than risk spending the rest of his life in prison if he was found guilty of the murder.
Goodger changed his plea to guilty of manslaughter on the second day of his murder trial, after damning evidence came out in the testimony of the Crown’s main witness, the sister-in-law of the deceased, a 32-year-old woman who witnessed the murder.
At the time he committed the murder, Goodger was 17, so at his sentencing this morning, Justice Lucas told him that he must take a number of factors into consideration, including the fact that he was a minor at the time of the incident.
Judge Lucas, in handing down the sentence, said he had to weigh the aggravating and mitigating factors.
There were two aggravating factors he looked at: the fact that earlier that day, prior to Pott’s stabbing, Goodger had threatened the deceased, telling him not to return to his house again.
Then secondly, Goodger’s mother had intervened when the two got into a struggle for a knife he (Goodger) had grabbed.
The mitigating factors Justice Lucas looked at is that Goodger was a minor, only 17, and the fact that he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Justice Lucas also noted that Goodger had showed sincere remorse for his actions and had apologized to the deceased’s family, and to his family for the pain he had caused them all, and also that he had an unblemished record before the homicide.
On Tuesday of this week, a mitigation plea was heard from Efrain Ricardo Aguilar, 67, a retired public officer from Caye Caulker who was once a businessman in Goodger’s neighborhood and had hired him as an office assistant to keep him off the street. He spoke well of Goodger.
Aguilar told Justice Lucas that he was impressed by the fact that Goodger’s mother raised them, while being a single mother. Goodger is one of seven siblings, and while they were poor and fatherless, their mother made sure they ate and went to school every day.
Unfortunately for Goodger, he made it only to standard 5 and was kicked out of school.
His mother had asked him, Aguilar, for help, so he hired Goodger as his office assistant. He said Goodger had been a very trustworthy, hardworking individual.
He begged the court for leniency on behalf of Goodger.
The doctor who did the post-mortem on Pott’s body testified that Pott sustained a single stab wound in the chest area, which went straight to the heart, killing him.
The case was prosecuted by DPP Crown Counsel Portia Staine, while Goodger was represented by attorney Bryan Neal.