THE BAHAMAS. DEATH PENALTY HANDED DOWN IN HISTORIC SENTENCING
April 20, 2006: in an historic judgement, Senior Justice Anita Allen sentenced convicted murderer Maxo Tido to death for the 2002 murder of 16-year-old Donnell Connover.
Tido, 24 years of age at the time of the crime, is the first murder convict to face discretionary sentencing and Justice Allen is the first trial judge to exercise discretion in a murder case in a Bahamian court, since the Privy Council ruled a month previously that the mandatory death sentence in the Bahamas is unconstitutional.
In her judgement on sentencing, the Supreme Court judge said she was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the appropriate sentence in this case was death.
Tido was convicted of murdering Miss Connover on March 20, days after the Privy Councilâ€™s ruling was handed down.
Since that decision, judges of the Supreme Court of the Bahamas now have the
responsibility to decide the appropriate sentence on a conviction of murder, specifically whether to impose the death penalty or a lesser penalty.
During the trial, the court heard how the teenager was lured from her home in the early morning hours of May 2, 2002, her body battered and bruised and her skull crushed. Evidence also revealed that parts of Miss Conoverâ€™s body had been burned after her death.
"Having carefully considered all [aggravating and mitigating] factors and having weighed them with [specified] objectives of sentencing, I conclude that this is a case in which the aggravating factors clearly outweigh the mitigating factors," Justice Allen said in her judgement.
"The aggravating factors are particularly heinous and cruel. And as if that were not enough, the body of the victim was significantly burned after her death. In my view, this case is at the top end of the range of criminal culpability."
"With respect to his abandonment by his parents at an early age  and whether that may have influence his conduct in committing the offence, given the evidence that he was brought up in a cohesive family unit and the evidence that he had no problems socialising and interacting with others, I am of the view that this did not influence his conduct in committing this offence," said Justice Allen.
Regarding whether Tido is considered "reformable," Justice Allen said that while anything is possible, given the circumstances of this crime, she felt there was no reasonable prospect of that.
Justice Allen noted that in the absence of any statutory guidelines for determining the appropriate sentence on a conviction of murder, she made the decision in accordance with her judicial oath and the judicial principle that the punishment imposed on a convicted person should always be proportionate to the gravity of the crime. (Sources: The Bahama Journal, 21/04/2006)