By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MOTHER was awash in tears yesterday after hearing that a Supreme Court jury was two members short of unanimously convicting the man who was accused of killing her 21-year-old daughter while she was on her cellphone on their front porch four years ago.
Lavita Thurston had to be consoled by two prosecutors after the jury returned a 10-2 guilty verdict against Anthony “Peanut” Bethel for murdering Georgette Rahming on May 26, 2015. For a murder conviction a jury’s verdict must be unanimous.
Given the “deadlocked” verdict, Justice Bernard Turner was forced to discharge the 12-member jury. He said Bethel must now face a second trial before a different judge and jury, thus ending a three week-long trial, and a four-year wait for closure for Mrs Thurston.
Bethel returns to court on May 24 for his case to be assigned to a different judge. He was ordered to be remanded into custody until then.
The jury’s decision came after roughly two hours of deliberation over evidence that showed how Bethel admitted on three occasions to killing Rahming: once in giving a “spontaneous” admission to officers at the Central Detective Unit (CDU) after turning himself in; during his record of interview and in giving a statement under caution, and to Mrs Thurston when she approached him at the Magistrate’s Court when he was being arraigned.
And Bethel, according to the evidence led, says his occupation is a “shooter” employed at “Mad Ass Gang,” according to his Facebook page.
During the trial the court heard that Bethel, in his record of interview on August 4, 2015, admitted to shooting Rahming because another individual, Rashad Leroy Smith aka “Shaddy” said he would have killed him otherwise.
Bethel, in response to a question by the investigating officer, Detective Corporal Raphael Miller, said he does not work for Smith, but is “scared” of him because if he did not do things for Smith, Smith would ensure that someone would follow and kill him.
Nonetheless, in his statement under caution, Bethel said he had known Smith all of his life. And despite his claims that he was afraid of Smith, Bethel’s girlfriend testified how the two were friends.
According to Bethel’s statement under caution, at some point in time after Smith came out of jail, he approached Bethel, pulled a gun on him, and asked if he was “with him or not”. To please Smith, Bethel said he replied in the affirmative.
Bethel went on to say that at another point in time, while he, Smith and Rahming were all hanging out, Smith and Rahming got into an argument and had a heated exchange. He said Rahming told Smith that she was going to have him killed, causing Smith to threaten her in return and say that “he will make sure she will get kill”.
Bethel said on the date in question, Smith told his girlfriend, Nessa, who was suggested to be Rahming’s friend, to call her and find out where she was. Nessa then told Smith that Rahming was at her home on Palmetto Avenue in The Grove on her porch. Then, Bethel said Smith told him and three other persons – “Bugs”, “Makaveli”, and “Crazy” – to “deal with that”. Bethel also said Smith told him to ensure that Rahming was dead or else they would be killed.
Bethel said he and the other three persons got in two separate cars and drove to The Grove area. Bethel said he was dropped off a few houses down from Rahming’s house. He said he then walked up to the young woman, whose head was down. However, he said, when she looked up and saw him, she tried to run.
Bethel said he opened fire on Rahming, hitting her, before fleeing onto Market Street, then Andros Avenue where he got into a car. He said he then made his way back to Smith and gave him back his gun.
According to a pathologist report, Rahming died from a gunshot wound to the back.
Days later, on August 7, Bethel was arraigned in a Magistrate’s Court charged with murder. On that day, according to the evidence, Mrs Thurston approached him at some point and asked him whether he had killed her daughter. In response, Bethel said “yes’’, explaining that had he not killed Rahming, Smith would have killed him.
However, Bethel took the stand in his defence and maintained that he was essentially framed by police officers, who beat and threatened him while in custody, and that Mrs Thurston, who took the stand and gave evidence for the Crown, lied on him when she said he admitted to killing her daughter. He further asserted that he was not on Palmetto Avenue on the date in question, and that he did not kill Rahming.
There was also evidence led on his behalf that he was with his girlfriend on the date in question; however, that evidence was not given by him, but rather his girlfriend, Simone Bain. She said that Bethel was with her that entire evening, and after getting into an argument with her, fell asleep before she did. She said Bethel did not leave the residence they were at, because she would have known.
Keevon Maynard represented Bethel during the trial. Darnell Dorsette and Camille Gomez-Jones represented the Crown in the case.