By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
A Grand Bahama mother and her three children - including a 20-year-old son and two juveniles - were arraigned on illegal firearm and ammunition possession charges yesterday after police found a gun in a bedroom of their home.
Turkessa Burrows, along with her son, Keiano Bethel, and two female minors, aged 14 and 17 years, of Freeport, appeared before Magistrate Rengin Johnson. However Bethel told the court the gun was his and pleaded guilty to the charges. He expressed regret through his attorney that his mother and young sisters had been caught up in the matter.
The charges were later dropped against his mother and minor sisters. The four were charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm and possession of illegal ammunition. They were represented by Simone Brown.
Police executed a search warrant at the family’s home before 11pm on the night in question and found a 9mm Smith and Wesson handgun and a 9mm magazine with eight rounds of 9mm ammunition in a bag. The occupants of the home were all arrested.
Prosecutor Sergeant Veron Rolle said Bethel was interviewed by police under caution and admitted that the firearm belonged to him.
Magistrate Johnson asked Sergeant Rolle whether the gun was found in Bethel’s bedroom. “It was found in his mother’s bedroom,” the prosecutor replied.
He also noted that the firearm is alleged to have been used in another criminal matter brought before the court.
Before passing sentence, Magistrate Johnson said: “We have too many guns on the street in our nation of just 340,000. Having a gun is an illegal act in the Bahamas. We don’t use guns 99 percent of the time to kill pigeons, we use it to kill. And even during COVID-19… people are driven to get guns and kill each other usually for money and vengeance, and drugs.”
The judge told Bethel that the prison is overpopulated in the Bahamas. As a result, she imposed fines of $6,000 on the firearm charge, and $6,000 on the ammunition, totaling $12,000. If he fails to pay the fine in seven days, the judge ordered that he serve 20 months behind bars on both counts to run concurrently.
Prosecutor Rolle asked that the firearm and ammunition possession charges be withdrawn against Bethel’s mother and two sisters, who were later discharged by the judge on both counts.