A man who stabbed his common-law wife 12 times in front of their child, an act that resulted in her death two days later, will serve 21 years and 7 months in prison for murder.
Emerald Keith Mack had already spent four years, six months and four days in jail by the time he was sentenced by the High Court yesterday, February 17. Therefore, his remaining sentence was given at 17 years, one month and two days.
The sentencing judge, Judge Brian Cottle, outlined the accepted facts of what happened on August 8, 2017.
It is said that Mack and Vesta Rawlins, 40, were in a common-law relationship and shared two children together. While Rawlins was a mother of seven, her two youngest daughters were conceived during her relationship with Mack.
The couple did not live together but Mack often came to sleep. On August 8, he was observed going home dressed in dark clothing, which witnesses said was unusual for him.
At one point during her visit, the couple were talking in the yard and their voices grew loud. They moved inside the house, and, according to their daughter, Mack held her hand so that it was hidden behind a door. Rawlins was changing their baby’s diaper when her common-law partner used a knife and stabbed her repeatedly. With her direct view of the stab wounds, their nine-year-old daughter counted six stab wounds. The autopsy revealed that there were 12. Six of them were distributed between the neck, chest and stomach.
Neighbors could hear the victim’s screams and came to his aid as Mack fled. The three-year-old girl was also injured in the incident.
“Vesta Rawlins was transported to hospital and despite the efforts of medical personnel, she succumbed to her injuries two days later,” revised the justice.
Police investigated and, “A knife was recovered from the yard. There were bloodstains in the bedroom, the living room of the house, there were also bloodstains in the yard.
Mack was nowhere to be found until he went to the police station in Mesopotamia two days later.
When he turned himself in, Mack informed the police that he and Rawlins had had an argument. According to the then 54-year-old woman, he suspected her of infidelity, and she responded by saying his body was hers to use as she saw fit. He pushed her, Mack said, and she pointed a knife at him. He said the gun fell from his hand, at which point he picked it up and stabbed it repeatedly.
In an electronic interview that police later conducted in the presence of an attorney, Mack said his earlier statements were the truth.
When Mack appeared in the High Court on June 6, 2019, he said he was ‘not guilty’ of murder. His attorney, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, spoke with the Crown, represented by attorney Rose-Ann Richardson, but failed to reach agreement that the case reflected manslaughter rather than murder .
Mack changed his plea to “Guilty” on October 18, 2021.
Yesterday Bacchus-Baptiste disputed some of the facts which she said were suggested by the prosecution. She said her client didn’t come in dark clothes because he intended to kill Rawlins. “Nothing could be further from the facts. He came there intending to sleep near her that night,” she told the court.
The lawyer also postulated that Mack ran away and slept in the field that night, changing clothes after crawling through red ants and stinging plants. He was apparently on the run from Rawlins’ relatives.
The lawyer also referred to the social protection report which she said was one of the best “if not the best” she had seen. She said some people the social worker spoke to said Rawlins was the abuser in the relationship and she had a knife or cutlass in her possession.
She referenced a number of places where people spoke to the welfare worker in ‘complimentary’ terms when it came to Mack.
Using the sentencing guidelines for the offense of murder issued by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), Justice Cottle began with a sentence of 30 years incarceration, ranging from 20 to 40 years.
From there, he took into account other aggravating and mitigating circumstances.
Justice noted that the offense took place at the victim’s home and in the presence of his children.
“I think there was a degree of planning or premeditation in that the prisoner may have brought a knife to the scene.
But he certainly took the time to put on dark-colored clothing to aid his escape,” Cottle explained, “it allowed him to evade detection by standing still in the dark near a banana tree root. (Mack) said.
His clothes were never found by the police.
The judge recalled: “…In his statement to the police, the prisoner stated that he changed his clothes after the incident and had spare clothes available to him in a nearby shed” . Mack having admitted to police that everything he had told them in the previous statement was the truth, the judge observed: “It is then apparent that the prisoner had hidden some fresh clothes nearby to change into after his attack on Vesta Rawlins.
On the other hand, Justice took into account the defense lawyer’s arguments that his client had been provoked and that the deceased was the aggressor.
There was nothing aggravating related to the offender himself.
With respect to the mitigating factors regarding Mack, it was acknowledged that the offender had never had a criminal conviction prior to being charged with murder and that he demonstrated remorse. Mack’s attorney said he was still crying about the crime and wished he could bring Rawlins back to life.
The social survey report revealed that people view Mack as a cool and calm person who behaves uncharacteristically at night. The judge also noted that prison authorities consider Mack to be a good candidate for rehabilitation.
Cottle considered: “I am of the view that the starting sentence of 30 years should be changed because, although the aggravating and mitigating characteristics of the offense are balanced by the mitigating characteristics of the offender, there still remains uncertainty as to the fact that the prisoner brought a knife. with him on the spot.
He reduced the sentence from 30 years to 27 years.
If Mack had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, he would have received a one-third subtraction from the sentence. However, since this did not happen at the earliest, the court decided that a discount of one-fifth would be granted.
“This will have the effect of reducing the original sentence from 27 years to 21 years, 7 months and 6 days,” Cottle concluded. He then took into account the time spent in pretrial detention to arrive at the final sentence.