Lavern Longsworth found guilty of murder
Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
Submitted by Glenn Tillett
Belize City, Thursday, November 01, 2012 – A jury of seven women and five men this afternoon in Supreme Court No. 2 returned from three hours of deliberations and declared that they unanimously agreed that Lavern Longsworth, more popularly known as “Antichrist”, was guilty of causing the August 2010 death of her common law husband David White.
Crown Counsel Sheiniza Smith, who called 15 witnesses, convinced the jury that not only had Longsworth doused White with kerosene at their Castle Street home on the night of July 15, 2010 and set him ablaze with a candle, but that she intended to kill him. White died on August 2, 2010 from his injuries.
Two doctors, the physician who treated White at the Karl Huesner Memorial Hospital and Police medical examiner Doctor Mario Estradabran who conducted the post mortem examination on his body, testified that in their opinion White died from first and second degree burns to over 55 percent of his body.
Following the incident Longsworth gave several interviews to the television news media in which she admitted throwing the fuel on White and setting him ablaze with a candle. Ten members of two television news broadcasts, including reporters, editors, and technical personnel were called to the stand. In her interviews and in a caution statement Longsworth said that on the night of July 15, 2010, White woke her up and asked her for $10 to buy crack cocaine. She said she was annoyed but found the money and gave him.
In a statement given from his hospital bed to a police officer and in the presence of a Justice of the Peace, White corroborated the story, saying that he got the money and went across the street and bought the narcotic.
Both statements agree that he returned to the house and was in the hall smoking when the incident occurred. Both their statements agreed that she threw the flammable liquid on him and then used a candle to set him ablaze. “I threw the thing pan anh and grabbed the candle and throw it pan anh,” Longsworth said in her sworn statement, “and ‘e shirt ketch.”
White said in his statement that while he was in the hall she threw a shoe and a bottle, both of which hit him in his back. He said that she was obviously upset so he told her: “Babes, hold dat down!” To which she replied, “Hold dat down? Ah wan kill yu bwai.” He then said that he tasted the liquid and as he rubbed his eyes to clear his vision he saw her reaching towards him with the candle.
In her closing address Crown Counsel Sheiniza Smith argued that regardless of David White’s character, criminal record or the allegation made in the statement by the defendant that he had infected her with HIV, “the value of his life is no less for his convictions” or his human failings. She also pointed out that in all her statements and interviews Longsworth had failed to show any remorse, and she called on the jury not to entertain a call for sympathy. “What I see from those interviews is a self-confessed criminal” she told the jury, and argued that no testimony had been proffered as evidence that she had been abused.
In his closing address her defense attorney argued that because she subsequently threw water on him and put out the conflagration, it was a sign that she never intended to kill him. Defense attorney Kevin Arthurs argued that Longsworth had been the victim of domestic abuse, and that she acted in self-defense and out of fear for her life. He had called three witnesses, a police officer from the Family Violence Unit who said that Longsworth had complained White had stolen a television set from her and on another occasion they had been called out to the home due reports of an altercation. He also said that Longsworth had told him on several occasions that White was abusive but he had not logged those reports as official complaints. Arthurs argued that Longsworth had acted in self defense, because she feared White, and on the night of the incident, he had a knife and may have been reaching for it. She had been candid in her statements, he told the jurors, and did not appear to be making things up. He also pointed to her dock statement in which she said that White had killed her long before because he had given her AIDS. Survival, Arthurs said, is the highest instinct.
The jury was sworn into the jury room for deliberations at 12:21pm and returned to the courtroom with their verdict at 3:27, guilty of murder.
In the few minutes before the Judge and then jury re-entered the courtroom, Longsworth smiled with members of her family, and appeared confident of an acquittal. At one point peals of laughter echoed from the jury room.
After the verdict her teenaged daughter sobbed uncontrollably and Longsworth appeared shocked, and lunged at a reporter who was trying to take her photograph as she was led away in handcuffs. David Smith’s father, mother and aunt all attended the trial and expressed grim satisfaction at the verdict.
Pusine Judge Adolph Lucas will sentence her on November 8th bringing the almost month long trial to a close.
Lavern Longsworth is the third woman to have been convicted of murder in the last 15 months, all for killing their common law spouses.
Last year November 15th, a jury of six women and six men found Kim Brannon guilty of killing her common law husband Anthony “Antics” Herrera on December 13, 2008, by chopping him with a machete as he slept at their home in Burrell Boom. In 2006 Brannon was arrested and charged for stabbing Paul Gonzalez, her boyfriend at the time, to death but was never tried. She was sentenced to life imprisonment.
On July 8, 2011 54 year old Viola Pook was convicted of killing her common-law husband Orlando Mai-Vasquez by setting him on fire, on New Year’s Eve, 2008, in the kitchen of their Rancho Dolores home. Pook was also sentenced to life imprisonment.
On December 31, 2010 Guatemalan Yanira Escobar was re-sentenced to six years imprisonment after being convicted of manslaughter for the stabbing death of Yesenia Salguero at a San Ignacio nightclub in July of 2005. She had originally been sentenced to 15 years but it was reduced on appeal. Also in 2010 Tiffara Smith was acquitted after three trials for the death of her brother, Dale Lino, in April of 2007.
Several women are currently awaiting trial for killing men. In April of last year Lucilla Bartley was charged for the stabbing death of Osbourne Gordon and Mae Bush of San Ignacio was charged for the June 18th stabbing death of David Guerra.
Four men were reportedly killed by women this year. In March Solomon Gabourel was allegedly stabbed to death by a female hot dog vendor after he had robbed her niece. She was not arrested and charged. In May Donovan Castillo, a BDF officer, was allegedly stabbed to death by his common law wife Marsha Reid as he slept at his home in Dangriga. Castillo is currently remanded to prison, awaiting trial after having been charged with murder. In August Lyndon Morrison was knocked down and killed allegedly by his mother, Calney Flowers. Flowers has been charged with murder, attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm, and dangerous harm and is awaiting trial. Last month, on October 6th, Kareem Dixon was stabbed to death allegedly by his common law wife. Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions have concluded that it was a case of self defense and she will not be charged.
Police have reported the deaths of several men in recent years, in their homes, which they suspect have been at the hands of their homosexual lovers.