Nineteen-year-old Grand Anse resident who was charged with the gruesome rape and murder of an eight-year-old Ariel Bhola in the Frequente area in St. Georges in 2017 now faces life in prison having been guilty of Capital murder.
A twelve-member jury panel deliberated for just over two hours on Tuesday before finding nineteen-year-year-old Twely Joseph guilty of Capital Murder, a charge that ties him to one of Grenada’s most horrific killing in recent history.
The incident surrounded the death of eight-year-old Bhola a young lady who in met her death in what was described as the most inhumane fashion, her lifeless body was found on the 11th of November 2017 in the bushes in Frequente one day after she was reported missing by family members.
According to reports at the time, when the discovery was made by a team from the villagers who were assisting in a search to find the missing child, Bhola had a belt attached to her neck, a stabbed wound and bruises to various parts of her body including a piece of wood inside her mouth.
According to the medical report emanating from the court, Bhola death was slow and was alive at the time that she was, being raped and abused by her attacker. Her death was attributed to sexual assault, according to the report.
During the five weeks’ trial which ended on Tuesday before Senior High Court Judge Paula Gilford, Joseph who was represented by Defense lawyer George Prime maintained his innocent, he admitted having consented sex with Ariel but had nothing to do with her death.
According to the defence team, Joseph was asked to take the rap for his uncle, one Steve Marcelle, a known convict, now deceased, who admitted to killing Ariel Bhola.
The prosecution, on the other hand, had a contrasting version to what transpired. Lead by Director of Public Prosecution Christopher Nelson, the prosecution contended Ariel’s death was a deliberate attempt by Joseph to silence the eight-year-old after he brutally raped her fearing that she would call his name.
A number of witnesses were called by the Prosecution placing Joseph in the vicinity of the crime and close to the home of the deceased. And although the fingerprint evidence found on the scene was not conclusive, the jury buys into the version of the argument and found Joseph guilty as charged.
Speaking to members of the media shortly after the verdict was handed down on Tuesday, Head of the prosecution team Christopher Nelson said base on the evidence lead by his team he would have been surprised if the verdict had gone otherwise.
Nelson said it was clear that the jury followed the evidence and returned a verdict consistent with that evidence.
Looking back at the case Nelson, said this was an extremely sad case one that literally ended the life of two young people, one in prison and the other died in a most gruesome manner. The DPP describe Bhola’s killing as the worst he has seen in all his years in the legal practice, in-fact he like into that of a horror movie, a death he said no one would wish on any individual even an animal.
Defence lawyer George Prime also spoke with the media, and according to him, the defence accepts the ruling of the court however he noted that at this stage, he is not ruling out anything, but would be considering his options moving forward after speaking with the accused.
Although Joseph was found guilty of on the Capital Murder, Charge that carries the death penalty, that option according to Nelson cannot be considered, given the incident would have taken place while Joseph was seventeen, still a minor and cannot be given the death penalty.
Joseph will be sentenced of January 31st 2020, both the defence and prosecution have until January 20th to file their submissions, and January 10th to forward to the court the psychiatrist and social inquiry reports.
Joseph faces life in prison as a maximum sentence, his fate now rests in the hands-on High Court Judge Paula Gilford.