Court rejects gay panic manslaughter defense
A man jailed for fatally stabbing a man, setting his house afire and taking his valuables yesterday lost an appeal against his conviction.
Fritznel Richemond was acquitted of murder in the 2009 stabbing death of Garth Rolle but convicted of manslaughter.
Richemond, who was friendly with Rolle, otherwise known as “Bobo”, told police that he killed him in self-defense after Rolle tried to drug him and “touched his hip”.
Writing the judgment on behalf of justices of appeal Sir Hartman Longley and Milton Evans, Justice of Appeal Sir Michael Barnett said that the verdict was “inevitable”.
He continued, “I have no doubt that the jury considered carefully the self-defense argument found in his confession statement and record of interview. They rejected it as fanciful and unrealistic and that he had no reasonable grounds for holding the belief that he was in danger and required him to stab the deceased to death.”
According to Richemond’s account to police, he went to Rolle’s home for a joint on October 22, 2009.
He claimed that Rolle offered him a glass of water, which he didn’t drink, because he saw undissolved powder at the bottom of the cup.
Richemond said he later drank another cup of water that Rolle gave him after he did not see any suspicious sediments inside.
He claimed that shortly after drinking the water, he developed a headache and decided to go home.
According to his confession statement, he started to stumble and Rolle brought him back into the house and put him in his bed.
The statement continued: “I then started to smell the scent of alcohol and he was rubbing my head and when his hand was on my hip.
“I began to catch myself so I place my hand in my pocket and I took out a little knife I had in it and I stab ‘Bobo’ and throw him under me to get on top of him and I stabbed him once in the neck and I started to break off running. As I ran he snatch me from the back and he hit me in my head with a lamp. I then got back on top of him and I stabbed him again, and then he bite me to my throat. I then swung behind me with the knife and stabbed him in his stomach, and he let my throat go. When he let my throat go I stabbed him several more times in his stomach.”
Richemond said he ran to a friend’s house and the friend advised him to return to the home and wipe off his fingerprints and he burned the house down.
Richemond said he returned to the house, lit the bed afire and put Rolle on the bed.
He said he took Rolle’s jewelry and bike, gave the bike to “Scar” and his friend sold the jewelry and gave him $250 from the proceeds.
Richemond’s lawyer, Roberto Reckley, argued that Richemond was at a disadvantage because he represented himself after his lawyer withdrew at the start of the trial and that the trial judge did not adequately put the case of self-defense to the jury.
The court noted that despite representing himself, Richemond was acquitted of murder.
Cordell Frazier appeared for the Crown.