Eye for an Eye
At the end of the trial of Rodman Moses Lewis prosecution seeks death penalty
One of Dominica's most sensational murder trials, possibly of the last decade, ended on Friday with a call for the imposition of capital punishment, that is the biblical "eye for an eye".
Prosecutors have described the murder as "the worst of the worse".
At the end of the trial, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) served notice on the Roseau High Court presided over by Justice Wynante Adrien-Roberts that it would be seeking the death penalty for Rodman Moses Lewis, 32, for the murder of Triscia Riviere at Stock Farm on Tuesday November 3, 2015, when the sentencing date comes around on Monday February 1, 2021.
The jury of five men and four women who listened to Lewis's trial over 28 days spanning seven weeks from Monday October 5 to Thursday November 13, 2020 needed less than an hour to reach a unanimous verdict of guilty.
At about 5:14 pm on Friday the jury filed into the courtroom. One minute later the foreman, to promptings from the clerk of the court, said they had arrived at their verdict and agreed upon it, and were unanimous in their verdict. To the question-what say you, is the accused guilty or not guilty of murder? - the answer was guilty, and so said all nine members.
Judge Adrien-Roberts then went on to thank the jury for their national service and for their patience during that long trial.
"I felt for you," the Judge said.
Director of Public Prosecutions Evelina Baptiste told the court after the jury was discharged that her office would be seeking the death penalty.
State Prosecutor Sherma Dalrymple who led the trial for the State gave four grounds for requesting a sentence of death by hanging. The first was the provisions in law for the sentence of death, that the case was an exceptional one of murder and among the worst of the worse, that there was no reasonable prospect of reform for the accused, and that it was a very brutal murder.
Counsel for convicted man, Anthony Commodore reserved his comments in mitigation for a later date.
Justice Adrien-Roberts ordered a social inquiry report and a psychiatric report for on or before January 8, 2021 and submissions from counsel to be filed on or before January 25, 2021 and the sentencing date of Monday February 1, 2021.
But why did Lewis kill his ex-girlfriend? On Monday November 16, 2020 Lewis made a statement in his defence from the prisoners' dock in about 10 minutes.
He started by saying that throughout the trial there had been different witnesses from the preliminary inquiry to the High Court, and during that time the investigating officer Chaucer James never told him that he had killed Triscia Riviere.
"I believed Mr Chaucer... Even before the preliminary inquiry (PI) at the Magistrate's Court I heard Calypsos and read other articles from the media trying to portray me, dehumanise me as a vicious individual. I am not a murderer and nor am I a killer," Lewis told the court.
"I work with non-profit organisations assisting both the youth, elderly and the unfortunate. I was employed at the State Prison as a prison officer. I was also a member of the Parents Teachers Association of the school my son attended.
"I also did various community projects in the area where I lived. I am not a murderer. I did not murder Triscia Riviere".
The State called 22 witnesses including the state first witness, Alana John Baptiste, a childhood and best friend of the deceased. John Baptiste told the court that she was getting ready to go home to Stock Farm from her mother's home on Rawle's Lane, Goodwill but needed help with her bags and baby. Unable to get her fiancée she called Rodman at his mother's home on Solomon Lane, Goodwill and he willingly agreed to assist her.
At Stock Farm on Cherry Lane, Alana was in the process of putting a sheet on her bed when she heard two bangs followed by Triscia's voice sounding like she wanted help.
"I ran to the kitchen where I saw my daughter and (Triscia's son) standing... Mr Rodman Lewis was standing above Ms. Riviere and stamping on the side of Triscia's face with his right boot.
"I immediately pulled him away by the shoulder and chest. His foot was covered in blood. He went back and stamped on her face again, harder, about three more times. I saw blood coming from her nose. I continued to pull Mr Rodman Lewis to stop. He was killing Triscia. He went back and stamped on her face again, and continued to stamp harder. I started to see blood coming from the side of her face. He said: 'I will kill you bitch and I will f--k you!'" (SUN, Oct 13, 2020)
Police Inspector Roy Pascal who was the third person into the house where Triscia lay said Lewis told him it happened already and he had used a 20lb gas cylinder. (SUN, Oct 27, 2020).
Constable Anselm Austrie who took notes for Sergeant Chaucer James during the investigations read that Lewis told him he arrived at Stock Farm about 4:30pm. There were two cylinders in the kitchen.
"I can remember moving one; when she fell her foot kicked it, and as it was falling I picked it up and hit her once to the upper part of her body. She was lying down."
He was in a rage when he used the cylinder. (SUN, Nov 10, 2020).
The autopsy report of Government Pathologist Dr. Yaima Breuchus Muniz of Cuba was read in court.
There were severe injuries to the head and neck and severe distortion of the face which was covered in blood. The right eye was partially open and the left eye deformed. There was discoloration to top of right breast and shoulder. The head which was deformed had suffered severe trauma, crushed.
Dr. Muniz stated the cause of death as traumatic shock, severe and multiple wounds to the head and a crushed brain and head.