Relatives of Cocoa Piece murder victims displeased after killer's sentencing postponed

Gwendolyn McKnight and a member of the Cocoa Piece community
The sentencing for Rushane Barnett, who confessed to killing his cousin and her four children in Cocoa Piece, Clarendon in June, was on Thursday postponed in the Home Circuit Court.
This caused anger among the loved ones of the victims.
The sentencing is now scheduled for October 20.
Barnett pleaded guilty on July 28, to the murder of 31-year-old Kemisha Wright and her children: 15-year-old Kimanda Smith, 12-year-old Sharalee Smith, five-year-old Rafaella Smith and 23-month-old Kishawn Henry.
Clad in a black T-shirt and ripped grey denim pants, Barnett hung his head and fiddled with a piece of thread on his pants while listening to details on Thursday of how he killed his cousin and her four children.
Occasionally, he glanced to his left where Kemisha's mother, Gwendolyn McKnight was sitting.
Justice Leighton Pusey, after listening to over three hours of submissions from both the Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn and Barnett's attorney Tameika Harris, indicated that he needed time to consider the sentence that is to be imposed.
Barnett was further remanded.
It was not the news a small group of family members that gathered outside the Supreme Court in Kingston for hours had hoped for.
They had waiting anxiously for Rushane Barnett's sentencing since the day he confessed to the gruesome crime.
Their anxiety turned into disappointment after they learnt it would be another three weeks before they would know his fate.
Following Thursday's court proceedings, a visibly distraught Gwendolyn McKnight told reporters she was unhappy with the delay of the sentencing. 
She said she was also left speechless for a moment after learning that the man who butchered her daughter and grandchildren will escape the death penalty and she is disappointed with the points raised in court by offender's lawyer.
No death penalty
Residents of Cocoa Piece in Clarendon have also expressed disappointment that the office of the DPP is no longer seeking the death penalty in the case involving Rushane Barnett.
The residents who spoke with Radio Jamaica News on Thursday afternoon said they are still traumatised by the killing of the family of five in June. 
"Mi sorry seh hanging nah gwaan again," said one community member. "If hanging wehna gwaan again, tomorrow him neck pop."
The resident reconciled his thoughts with the admission that "none a we cyah fight down the law.... We affi just take it as how di the law run."
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had served a notice of death penalty on Barnett during his first court appearance in June.
But in her submission on Thursday, DPP Paula Llewellyn explained that the Crown could no longer pursue the death penalty since Barnett had confessed to the killings at the first available date. 
Instead, she asked the judge to go outside of the sentencing range, with a recommendation that Barnett should get life imprisonment with eligibility for parole after serving 60 years and nine months on each count of murder.
She said this is based on several aggravating factors to include the ages of the victims, that they were killed within sight of each other, the nature of their injuries and that the deceased were family of the accused.
The DPP also asked the court to take into account that Barnett was an occasional caregiver of the children, he threw away his shorts and the knife before leaving the murder scene and that he knew what he was doing.
Ms Llewellyn also submitted to the court that Barnett should not benefit from sentence reduction on account of his guilty plea, considering the circumstances of the crime, that it was "pre-meditated, cold and callous", and because Barnett hid his bloody clothes and fled after the crime. 
'He was sorry'
Responding to the DPP's submissions, Barnett's attorney Tamika Harris argued that he should benefit from a sentence discount given that he has saved the court's time and resources.
Ms. Harris further argued that, contrary to a forensic psychiatrist's findings that Barnett lacked remorse and empathy, her client, through his social inquiry report, expressed that he was sorry. 
She urged the court to grant Barnett eligibility for parole after 45 years. 
According to an antecedent report read in court, Barnett, who briefly pursued boxing at the Stanley Couch Gym in Kingston, had no previous convictions.

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