April 05, 2014 - 2:28 PM
BRAMPTON, Ont. - A couple was convicted of second degree murder on Saturday of killing the man's 10-year-old boy who died after months of horrific abuse and neglect.
Nichelle Boothe-Rowe started crying after the jury handed down its verdict while Garfield Boothe remained stoic. They did not look at each other.
Jurors heard gruesome evidence of how Garfield Boothe's 10-year-old son Shakeil was beaten, deprived of food and chained to his bed in the months before he was found dead in his bed on May 27, 2011.
Court has heard the boy died "minutes to hours" after a savage beating that caused widespread internal bleeding and overwhelmed his weakened body.
Jurors spent about 14 hours deciding the couple's fate. They pleaded not guilty to the second degree murder charges, but defence lawyers conceded their actions met the criteria for manslaughter.
However, Boothe-Rowe's lawyer urged the jury to acquit his client, saying she was under duress.
The trial began on Feb. 3 and heard from dozens of witnesses, including paramedics, police officers, relatives and the pathologist who examined Shakeil's body.
Both accused testified, pointing the finger at each other through their lawyers as they described a marriage and family marred by violence and lies.
Shakeil moved from Jamaica in 2009 to live with his father in the couple's home in his suburban Toronto community.
Boothe-Rowe testified of a life of violence against both her and the boy. She testified she tried to stop him on occasion but didn't push it further because she feared for her life and that of her own child, Shakeil's infant half-brother.
Boothe denied any allegations of long-term abuse but admitted marital disputes often involved "pushing and shoving" and that he did physically discipline his son.
Boothe's lawyer John Rosen contended it was Boothe-Rowe who resented the boy — her husband's child with another woman — and had care of him during the day while his father was at work.
The boy was eventually pulled from school when his injuries grew too serious to remain unnoticed, they said.
The court heard evidence that the boy's final beating caused extensive internal bleeding that his body simply could not recover from.
Autopsy photos showed scars of varying ages criss-crossing Shakeil's bony shoulders, back and legs, swelling in his hands and thighs and open wounds on his shins, some of which were yellowed with infection.
Defence lawyers argued only the person who committed the final assault should be convicted of murder. Boothe-Rowe's lawyer Brian Ross urged the jury to fully acquit his client, who he claimed had no other choice than to go along with her husband out of fear he that he might beat her.
But prosecutors contended was the cumulative effect of the abuse and the attack that killed the boy and both should be held equally responsible.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014