GUYANA: DEATH ROW INMATE GETS SENTENCE COMMUTED
January 2, 2013: In Guyana, Attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes was able to have his client, Oral Hendricksâ sentence commuted to life imprisonment by the High Court.
Back in 1992, Hendricks was 25 years old and working as a caretaker at the Speedway Hotel at Land of Canaan, East Bank of Demerara.
Hendricks was involved in a common-law relationship with a woman, Carol Braithwaithe, and her three small children: Jason Braithwaithe, seven; Althea George, four; and Travis Bunbury, two. Carol Braithwaithe eventually moved to Plaisance, where she allegedly had a live-in job. Oral Hendricks was left to take care of Carolâs three children.
This situation continued for several months, until Hendricks eventually took the children to the West Demerara Regional Hospital and left them in the compound.
The children remained at the hospital in the care of staffers, but on Friday, December 10, Hendricks collected the children from hospital officials.
According to police records, on the night of Saturday, December 12, 1992, Hendricks took his reputed wifeâs three children to a canal in Depot Dam in Pouderoyen, East Bank Demerara.
It is alleged that Hendricks flung two-year-old Travis Bunbury into the canal and watched the child drown. He then did the same to the boyâs four-year-old sister, Althea George.
Finally, Hendricks dumped seven-year-old Jason Braithwaithe into the canal, but the child managed to swim to the other end.
Hendricks, it is alleged, pursued the child and slit his throat with a knife. He then held the childâs head underwater to ensure that he was dead.
The following day, Hendricks went to a brotherâs home in Depot Dam, Pouderoyen, where he told his sibling what had transpired. The brother and another man raced to the canal where a frantic search began for the missing children. First, they located the bodies of Travis Bunbury and Althea George. Jason Braithwaiteâs body was found later in the afternoon.
Shortly after, Oral Hendricks surrendered to police at the Vreed-en-Hoop Police Station. On December 15, 1992, he was charged with murder.
During his trial, Hendricksâs two attorneys claimed that their client had an alibi and knew nothing of the gruesome crime. Hendricks, they said, had loved the children as if they were his.
Prosecutor Shalimar Ali-Hack presented evidence which showed that after the children were slain, Hendricks had gone to Plaisance and told his reputed wife, Carol Braithwaithe, that his sister had taken the children to the West Demerara Regional Hospital and that the authorities were refusing to return them to him.
But a witness for the prosecution stated that the children were handed over to Hendricks on Friday, December 10, 1992, the day before they were murdered.
In addition, the prosecution provided a statement which showed that Hendricks had confessed to killing the children.
In his statement, the accused alleged that he had murdered the three children because he was angry with their mother. On Tuesday, February 5, 1996, a seven-man, five-woman jury found Hendricks guilty.
Before passing the death sentence on the accused Chief Justice Cecil Kennard asked Hendricks what he had to say. âI did not commit this crime,â was Hendricksâ terse response.
In 2000, Hendricksâs attorneys filed an appeal against his sentence but the appeal was rejected. That same year, a death warrant was read to the accused. However, Hendricks remained on Death Row. (Sources: KNews, 03/01/2013)