Crime — 14 December 2012 — by Rochelle Gillett

Patnett stabbed his ex common-law wife while she was pregnant with his child

Henry Patnett, 23, was found guilty today of attempted murder, wounding and child destruction after a jury of 9 – 8 women and 1 man – deliberated for just under 3 hours.

Patnett was charged with the attempted murder of Valerie Sheran; the wounding of Ernesto Ireland; and with child destruction for the dead, premature neonate (baby) that was extracted from Sheran’s womb.

Patnett, who was undefended in court, was accused of stabbing his ex common-law wife, Valerie Sheran, 30, who, at the time, was 7 months pregnant with his child.

Ernesto Ireland, 71, Sheran’s current boyfriend, was with her at the time of the attack, and in trying to protect her from further injury, was himself injured by Patnett.

On August 2, 2010, in the wee hours of the morning, Sheran and Ireland were at her house asleep in her bedroom when Patnett entered and attacked Sheran with a machete. Sheran was first stabbed in her left breast, then in her abdomen.

In her testimony to the court, she recounted that she struggled with Patnett for the machete and after wresting it from him, he pulled a knife. During her struggle with Patnett, Ireland awoke, and after realizing that she had been stabbed, fought with Patnett. But his fight with Patnett only resulted in him suffering injuries to his hand.

Patnett then ran from the house, and Ireland ran downstairs in an attempt to find him. But his attempt was fruitless, and he ended up sitting on the street side, where a police mobile unit came upon him.

Officers in the vehicle noticed what appeared to be blood on his shirt, and after questioning him as what occurred, went upstairs in the house, where they found Sheran in the room, bleeding.

As mentioned above, Sheran was 7 months pregnant and due to profuse bleeding from her wound, the baby died before Sheran could have given birth.

While the attempted murder and wounding charges are offenses that are familiar to the courts, child destruction is not an offense that is well known. But the law describes exactly what the charge constitutes in the Criminal Code 111 (4). Every person who, with intent to destroy the life of a child capable of being born alive, by any wilful act causes a child to die before it has an existence independent of its mother, shall be guilty of a felony, to wit, of child destruction, and shall be liable on conviction thereof to imprisonment for life.

Testimony from Dr. Salvador Paguaga described the morning Sheran arrived at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital suffering from stab wounds to her left breast, abdomen and right hand. The doctor further testified that he extracted a premature baby from Sheran’s womb, which was dead. When asked his opinion of what caused the baby’s death, he told the court that it was because Sheran had lost so much blood as a result of the stab wound to her abdomen.

But the testimony from Dr. Mario Estradabran conflicted with what Dr. Paguaga said. Dr. Estradabran testified that he was unable to verify the cause of the death for the baby, since she was premature.

Patnett, for his part, didn’t offer any kind of defense. He didn’t cross-examine any of the witnesses, and after the Crown, represented by Stevannie Duncan, closed its case, Patnett, after being advised as to what his choices were in defending himself, chose to remain silent.

After deliberating for just under 3 hours, the jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on all three charges. When Justice Adolph Lucas asked Patnett if there was any reason why he shouldn’t be sentenced immediately, Patnett told the court no. When asked if he had any witnesses to bring forward to speak on his behalf, he also replied no.

Justice Lucas then sentenced Patnett to 12 years each for the attempted murder and wounding charges, which are to run concurrently. For the child destruction charge, he was sentenced to 2 years, which will run consecutively to the 12-year sentence.

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