From 98 to 30 years: Appeal Court reduces jail time for mother convicted of killing children
Hofosawa Awena Rutherford, who is currently serving 98 years behind bars for killing her two children, had her prison sentence reduced to 30 years by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
In 2018, Rutherford, formerly of Supply Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara was found guilty by a 12-member mixed jury on two counts of manslaughter.
The indictment stated on March 27, 2014, at Lot 10 Supply, Mahaicony, she unlawfully killed her son Jabari Cadogan, who was just 16-months-old, and her daughter Hodascia Juliana Cadogan, 4.
The State contended that on the day in question, Rutherford killed her children by giving them a poisonous substance to ingest. Jabarie Cadogan died while receiving treatment at the Mahaicony Cottage Hospital, East Coast Demerara. His sister later succumbed at the Georgetown Public Hospital.
For killing four-year-old Hodascia, Rutherford was sentenced to 45 years, while she was ordered to serve 53 years behind bars for killing Jabari. The two sentences were to run consecutively.
Dissatisfied with the ruling of the High Court, the woman, with the aid of attorneys Dexter Smartt and Dexter Todd, mounted an appeal against the conviction and sentence, claiming several errors in law were made by the trial judge, including that the judge allowed inadmissible evidence and also imposed an excessive sentence.
The appeal was heard by Chancellor (ag) Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justices of Appeal Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud; the State was represented by Prosecutor Teshanna Lake.
The Chancellor, delivering the ruling, pointed out that a ruling on the voluntariness of any caution statement is a “condition precedent” before admission.
Despite the omission by the trial judge to conduct a voir dire on voluntariness, the Chancellor stated that no real “risk of injustice” to the appellant could be established.
The Court affirmed the conviction but reduced Rutherford’s sentence to 30 years on each count which will run concurrently, with a stipulation that she is not eligible for parole before serving 20 years.
Additionally, Rutherford received credit for the time spent in pretrial custody.