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On May 10, 2024 during a trial in the Criminal Assizes at the High Court in Basseterre, Tabari Roberts and Jelani Duncan pleaded guilty to Manslaughter related to the homicides of teenagers Lamonte Heyliger and Jahquan Merritt. The case stems from events on January 11, 2021, when Heyliger and Merritt were fatally shot at Lower Thibou Avenue, McKnight. The Police first arrested and charged Tabari Roberts for murder on January 15, 2021, followed by Jelani Duncan on January 29, 2022. This incident marked the first two homicides of 2021. The arrests were the result of an intensive investigation into the shootings, which occurred at a shed where Heyliger, Merritt, and others were present.

During the proceedings, the Crown indicated its willingness to accept guilty pleas from both accused. Tabari Roberts pleaded guilty to two counts of Manslaughter by Reason of Provocation, relating to the deaths of Jahquan Merritt and Lamonte Heyliger. Similarly, Jelani Duncan pleaded guilty to two counts of Manslaughter by Unlawful Act, for providing a firearm to Roberts, an unlicensed firearm holder, which led to the deaths of Merritt and Heyliger.

Manslaughter is a criminal offence that involves the unlawful killing of another person without premeditation. Unlike murder, manslaughter does not require the intent to kill or cause serious harm. Manslaughter by Reason of Provocation occurs when a person kills another in the heat of passion, provoked by the victim’s actions, which would cause a reasonable person to lose self-control.

Both Roberts and Duncan are now awaiting sentencing. The Offences Against the Person Act, Cap. 4.21, provides that a person who is convicted of Manslaughter shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to life imprisonment with or without hard labour, or to pay such fine as the court may award, in addition to or without any such other discretionary punishment.

The Crown was represented by the Learned Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Adlai Smith, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Teshaun Vasquez, and Crown Counsel, MsAlthea Campbell.

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