HEARTACHE

Pain
was evident in Lavern Morgan’s voice Sunday morning while she was getting ready for church.

Three days prior, she sat in the St Ann Parish Court and watched as two men on trial for her daughter’s murder were freed.

“Honest to God, me blank right out. It is like I don’t know what happened. The judge said the case weak. Oh, God,” Morgan said.

“I feel like I went back down to where I was coming from. I don’t know. I have to go to church to get little blessings this morning because I don’t know. The wound that I got, it opened out right back — to know that I went for justice and nothing was served. I had to come out of the courthouse,” she told the Jamaica Observer, frustrated.

Her 14-year-old daughter, Raven Wilson, who lived with her in Top Hill, St Ann’s Bay, was reported missing on Friday, October 19, 2018. After a frantic community search the teenager’s body was found two days later, about 6:30 am, in a garbage bag with the throat slashed.

Two days after, Raven’s school bag was located at a premises in the community.

In November 2018 two 15-year-old boys were charged in relation to Raven’s killing. One was charged with murder and the other, accessory after the fact to murder.

The jury trial, which started early in May, concluded on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 as both accused men, now 19-year-olds, were freed.

One of the accused, who acted as a witness, had under a plea deal with the prosecution, pleaded guilty to the offence of misprision of felony, and gave evidence against the other accused.

Misprision of felony is a crime that occurs when someone knows a felony has been committed but fails to inform the authorities.

In addition, he gave a statement to the police in terms of what he was going to testify, and gave evidence. However, his credibility was found wanting as a result of inconsistencies and contrasting statements. The prosecution was constrained to offer no further evidence, as he was the sole eyewitness.

Justice Dale Palmer sentenced the witness to one year imprisonment, with the sentence suspended for three years. If he commits any offence in the next three years he will have to go to prison for that offence as well as serve the year for the misprision of felony. In essence, he is free unless he commits another offence.

Efforts to get a comment from Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Andre Wedderburn, who had conduct of the case, were futile up to press time on Sunday.

In April this year Raven would have turned 19. Each birthday since her death has been painful for the family.

Morgan said seeing the accused men in court and hearing the testimony was brutal.

“It is rough. It is not a nice feeling that I am going through; only God knows the pain I am going through. At one point I couldn’t manage. I just started shaking; one of the police officers had to come and hold me. The plastic bag that they put my daughter in could put me in my grave. They used one plastic bag to tie Raven from her head to her waist, and then from her foot to her waist,” she said.

The grieving mother, who disclosed that she contemplated suicide at one point after being overcome by her daughter’s gruesome murder, said she intends to protest today.

“I am going on the streets [today] to protest from the station [St Ann’s Bay Police Station] to the courthouse. I have to take it to the streets. I am going to the extra mile to do this for my child. I cannot take this; if I have to be on the road every day, I have to get justice. It is like nobody is talking about this. It is like it is covered down,” she told the Observer.

“If it was your daughter, how would you feel? Think about your child… put your child there. You don’t know the pain that I feel. I am wondering where God leave me and gone to. Every single soul saying this cannot be right,” she said.

A team from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) had provided grief counselling to Raven’s relatives and residents of the community.

Raven was a third-form student at Ocho Rios High School, and counselling sessions were also conducted for children affected by her death.