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Pair should serve equal prison time for child's death

Toronto criminal lawyer John Rosen, who represents one of two people convicted of second-degree murder in the death of 10-year-old Shakeil Boothe, told the court hearing the matter that his client should have his parole eligibility fixed at between 13 and 15 years.

Convictions for murder result in an automatic life sentence. Crown counsel asked that Garfield Boothe, the father of the boy, spend 22 years in prison before being eligible for parole and that Boothe’s wife, Nichelle Boothe-Rowe, the child's stepmother, spend 15 years behind bars before being eligible for parole, reports the Toronto Star.

A jury convicted Boothe and Rowe-Boothe of second-degree murder in the May 2011 beating death of the young boy in his Brampton home, says the newspaper.

Rosen, partner at Rosen Naster LLP, represented Garfield Boothe.

At trial, the primary focus of attention was the beating of the boy in the basement of the home that led to his death within minutes to hours of that event. The accused pointed at each other as the person responsible for this final act.

The trial heard that the boy was a difficult child who was chained to his bed for control, beaten with a strap as a form of discipline and denied food when he refused to eat what was offered, resulting in him being malnourished when he died of a combination of massive internal bleeding, pneumonia and a blood infection, says the Toronto Star.

The newspaper reports that, according to Rosen, the previous beatings were not “gratuitous” acts of violence, but rather punishments for Shakeil’s misbehaviour in school. The chaining, beatings and denial of food were part of a “downward spiral of conduct by two people who did not know how to deal with the situation,” the lawyer is quoted as saying in the article.

During the sentence hearing, Rosen also told the court that because both accused were convicted of second-degree murder neither could be found to be the immediate cause of death and asked the judge to give both the same period of parole ineligibility despite the fact that some jurors recommended that Garfield Boothe be forced to serve a longer period of ineligibility than Rowe-Boothe, says the newspaper.

According to The Star, the trial judge, Justice Fletcher Dawson, heard from defence lawyers and the Crown during a sentencing hearing on May 12 and has reserved his final decision to June 5. Read Decision in Toronto Star

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