Forty-five-year-old Andell Forde of Rahaman’s Park, Houston, Greater Georgetown, was sentenced to 20 years for killing transgender sex worker Nephi Luther, born Noel Luther.
The father of six, who had worked as a fish vendor, appeared before Justice Navindra Singh on Tuesday at the High Court, where he pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter.
The State contended that around 01:30h on July 22, 2015, near Carmichael and Quamina Streets, Forde confronted and shot Luther who plied his trade in the area. It followed an argument which Luther had with an unsatisfied client, who was a friend of Forde. The businessman had accused the sex worker of robbing him and had left only to return later accompanied by Forde, who then shot Luther who died from a single gunshot wound to the chest.
The Judge accepted the accused’s confession, stressing that there were legal grounds to accept the plea for manslaughter. In his appeal for leniency, defence counsel Mark Conway reminded that Forde was helping a friend who was robbed. Moreover, Conway disclosed that his client was one of the men injured in the deadly Camp Street Prison fire last year, which had left 17 inmates dead.
The court heard that Forde received several burns about the body as he tried to rescue trapped inmates during the fire. Conway claimed that these ‘selfless acts’ suggested that Forde wanted to add positively to society. However, State Prosecutor Tuanna Hardy pointed out that Forde’s actions put the public at risk since others were present when he shot the now deceased man. She submitted that the sentence must reflect the crime.
In addressing the court, Forde, who did not show much emotion from the prisoner’s dock, apologised to the family of Luther. None of Luther’s family members were identified at Tuesday’s sentencing.
“I am really sorry; I was representing a friend. I lost a son; I know what it’s like,” the shooter claimed.
The Judge took into consideration all that he heard, but maintained that Forde must accept liability for what he had done. As such, Justice Singh sentenced him to 20 years, with deductions for time spent awaiting trial. “You are well on your way to getting rehabilitated… get involved in anger management programmes,” the Judge encouraged.
When Forde departed the courtroom, he had no comment for this publication, but after receiving his sentence he had begun to shed tears. Forde has already undergone two surgeries for his burn injuries and is slated to have more surgeries in the future.