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Man who pleaded guilty to murder claims plea deal breached

A man who pleaded guilty to murder in a plea deal with prosecutors has alleged that the agreement was breached.

Sherman Sherlin Rhodriquez appeared before the Court of Appeal yesterday in a bid to overturn his conviction and 60-year prison term on the grounds that verdict was unsafe and the sentence was unduly severe.

Rhodriquez admitted to fatally stabbing his neighbor Dale Hepburn in a drug-crazed frenzy on December 7, 2004.

On June 1, 2010, he agreed to plead guilty to the offense on the condition that the prosecution recommended a particular sentence.

Attorney Jerone Roberts, who represents Rhodriquez, argued that the agreement was void because the prosecution failed to comply with the terms of the agreement by not recommending a sentence.

Justice of Appeal Christopher Blackman asked if the prosecution conformed to the terms of the agreement by not seeking the death penalty.

Roberts suggested prosecutors had not because there was no stipulation to the sentence.

Yet Garvin Gaskin, the deputy director of public prosecution, disagreed with the suggestion that the arrangement was invalid. According to him, the recommendation of a particular sentence did not mean that the prosecution should have specified a fixed sentence in the written agreement.

Gaskin said the agreement was still valid because the prosecution recommended a custodial sentence.

Gaskin said he was unable to fully address the court on the issue because he had just received Roberts’ arguments on Tuesday.

The justices asked Gaskin to assist them by presenting authorities from other countries whose laws were used as models for the act that provides for plea discussions and agreement.

The case continues on January 26.

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