Man killed after spade handle plunged into his head

JUNCTION, St Elizabeth — Residents of Tryall district near this rural town have raised concerns about the lack of treatment for mentally ill people, after a man, believed to be of unsound mind, killed another man by plunging the handle of a spade into his head.

The victim has been identified as JoeWayne Witter, 24, otherwise called Iron, a resident and labourer of Tryall.

A police report said about 3:00 pm Monday, Witter and a man were at a bar on the Down Country main road in Tryall when an argument developed between them. Police said the man left the bar and went outside and waylaid Witter.

Moments after, police said, Witter was attacked by the man who hit him several times on the head with the handle of a spade.

Head of the St Elizabeth police Coleridge Minto told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday that a suspect has been taken into police custody in relation to the incident.

The Observer was told that the accused is believed to be of unsound mind, and that Witter was trying to get away from his attacker by going to his motorcycle when he was bludgeoned with the spade handle, causing him to collapse. He was pronounced dead at hospital.

A resident who asked not to be named said the accused hadn’t displayed previous signs of violence. “He is under medical care… There was an altercation, and he allegedly used some kind of shovel to hit the other guy in the head. He retaliated in a deadly manner. The young man who died has had altercations with other people but the [accused] is not a troublemaker,” the resident said, adding that the incident came as “surprising”.

“When I heard of what took place, I was dumbfounded,” he said.

Another resident said the accused man was seen walking in the communitywith the spade handle sharpened .

However, they both agreed that special focus needs to be placed on the care of the mentally ill.

“There are so many unsound mind people in Junction, and at any moment anything can happen. You have to be very cautious and mindful of what you say to them and your interaction with them as they can be dangerous,” cautioned one resident.

In June this year Rupert Cunningham, 62, was stoned to death in Junction, allegedly at the hands of a man said to be mentally challenged. The incident sparked calls from political representatives, including councillors, for assistance to be sought for the mentally challenged in St Elizabeth.