Sutherland was found guilty by a nine-member jury
From the Courts
March 29, 2011
Sutherland was found guilty by a nine-member jury

Kellicia Sutherland has been given a second chance at life.

That opportunity was granted by High Court Judge Gertel Thom, yesterday, at the Criminal Assizes,{{more}} even after Sutherland was found guilty by a nine-member jury on a charge of abandonment of her one-year-old son, Jarod Finch, who perished in a fire two years ago.

Thom, who on Friday, March 25, instructed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty on both counts of manslaughter, placed Sutherland on a three-year suspended custodial sentence on the abandonment charge.

Abandonment is liable to a prison sentence of five years.

Initially, the 23-year-old Diamond resident was charged with causing the death of her two-year-old daughter, Kayla Sutherland and her son, on February 23, 2009, after the house in which the children were staying was gutted by fire.

She had left home two days earlier, leaving the children in the care of a man, but never returned home.

“You deserve a second chance in life. I am giving you a second chance to do something with your life,” Thom said, as tears streamed down the cheeks of Sutherland who stood in the prisoner’s dock.

Sutherland, in a statement given to police, said that she left home on the fateful weekend in 2009, but the children were left in the care of Leroy ‘Jerry’ Williams, in Redemption Sharpes.

“When you are a parent, you have certain responsibilities. When you decide that you want to involve in activities that are for adults, there are consequences….You are no longer able to leave your home and go away for the whole day and leave the children,” Thom firmly stated.

On Friday, March 25, at the end of the prosecution’s case, Justice Thom asked the Crown, led by Station Sargeant Colin John, to make submissions in relation to the manslaughter charges, in the absence of the jury.

John submitted that Sutherland owed the children a duty of care as their mother, but had breached that duty by leaving them unattended, resulting in their deaths.

Sutherland, who was without counsel in the matter, had asked the question if there was any evidence pointing to the cause of the fire.

However, Detective Corporal Wilma Black, who was on the stand at the time, noted that there was a report taken from an electrical inspector as to the cause of the fire.

That report never surfaced in court.

Justice Thom stated that the prosecution did not present any evidence as to what caused the fire and, as a result, the prosecution could not prove that the fire was started by Sutherland.

Thom added that the prosecution could not prove a causal link between Sutherland and the death of the children. As a result, she summoned the jury back to the courtroom and instructed them to return a verdict of not guilty on the manslaughter charges, and left Sutherland to answer the case of abandonment.

Sutherland, who has two other children, aged seven and five months old, called three witnesses to the stand to support her claim that she was a good mother.

However, main witness for the crown, Otis Abraham, painted a different picture.

In his testimony, he said Sutherland was in the habit of leaving the children at home unattended and on one occasion, he was walking out of his yard, when he heard Kayla calling out to him, asking for a drink of water.

Abraham said he went to the back door and asked the young child how would she get the water. The man said Kayla pushed her foot to the bottom of the door and slightly opened it. He then placed a hammer between the door, so that it would allow more space for him to hand Kayla the water.

Abraham said she asked him for another glass of water and, at that point, he suspected that she was hungry, so he went and got the children bread and sausage to eat.

This went on for 10 days before Sutherland returned, Abraham said.

In her statement, Sutherland had admitted that it was not the first time she had slept out and left the children in the company of Jerry.

“I never leave them for a whole day. I does only lock dem up in the house and come back quick…,” the statement said.

Jerry Williams, owner of the house where the children perished, said, on February 21, 2009, he returned home about 10 p.m., only to meet the children alone in the house.