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Sentencing hearing takes place in death of Shakeil Boothe

It was an emotional day in court as the sentencing hearing took place for a father and step-mother who were convicted of second-degree murder in the death of their 10-year-old son.

Shakeil Boothe’s frail and battered body was found in the family’s Brampton, Ont., home on May 27, 2011.

Shakeil’s father, Garfield Boothe, and his step-mother, Nichelle Boothe-Rowe, were charged with first-degree murder.

A conviction of second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence; however, the judge is considering the parole eligibility for the father and step-mother.

The Crown is asking the court that Boothe not be eligible for parole for 22 years and Boothe-Rowe for 15 years. However, Rowe-Booth’s lawyer said that she has shown remorse for Shakeil’s death and is asking the judge for life without parole for 13 years. Booth’s lawyer has requested that the judge sentence his client to between 13 to 15 years.

The judge will hand down his final sentence on June 5.

At the sentencing hearing on Monday, Boothe-Rowe apologized to Shakeil’s mother, Kenesha McCree, in court and cried as she read from a letter.

“Shakeil’s tragic unexpected death haunts me daily, I wish I had protected him more,” Boothe-Rowe told the court.

“I apologize to Ms. McCree from the bottom of my heart for not protecting Shakeil … He looked up to me and I betrayed him by not looking after him.”

Claudette Boothe, Shakeil’s step-grandmother told the court she felt guilty for not calling the Children’s Aid Society sooner and that “this feeling of guilt will not go away.”

May Rose Grant, the grandmother in Jamaica who raised Shakeil until he was eight years old, told the court in a letter, “I wonder how much pain, how hungry he was … What were his final thoughts at that last beating.”

“Shakeil was a remarkable little boy, kind [and] loving. He was excited to move to Canada to meet his father. I cried when he was leaving and he said, if you don’t want me to go, just tell me.”

“We thought it would be better for him. We believed Garfield would take him home for holidays instead just his little body came home.”

Shakeil’s mother said her son had a happy life in Jamaica and that his grandmother would make him his favourite food after church.

“I wanted him to have the love of a father … to think of the agony of his broken bones and his infection from his sore,” McCree told the court.

“I don’t know how to move forward, I have no appetite knowing that my son was malnourished. [He was] chained like an animal — he was just a little boy.”

Boothe-Rowe did not look up as the victim impact statements were read in court but was seen dabbing at her eyes.

During the trial, jurors heard gruesome evidence of how Shakeil — who came from Jamaica to live with his father in 2009 — was regularly beaten, deprived of food and chained to his bed in the months before he was found dead in his bed on May 27, 2011.

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. The jury delivered its verdict on April 5.

Booth Trial Victim Impact Statements

With files from The Canadian Press