After hearing a probation report and victim impact statement, High Court Judge Sandil Kissoon sentenced 36-year-old Abishai Caesar to death for the 2012 murder of Anna Catherina, West Coast Demerara (WCD) businesswoman Jennifer Persaud and her two sons.
Following a trial at the High Court in Demerara, a 12-member jury found that between September 21 and 22, 2012, at Anna Catherina, WCD, Caesar murdered 41-year-old Persaud and her sons: Afridi Bacchus, six; and 18-month-old Jadon Ernest.
State Prosecutor Lisa Cave had told the jury that during September 2012, Caesar resided with his reputed wife Zoey Phillips at Anna Catherina, and were Persaud’s neighbours.
According to the prosecutor, between September 21 and 22, 2012, Caesar told his reputed wife that he was going over to the woman’s house because he wanted money, and that he would return after getting it.
When he returned home, the prosecutor said, Caesar told his reputed wife what he had done to Persaud and her two children. The next day, the lifeless bodies of Persaud and her two sons were discovered by her father in their home, the prosecutor added.
According to Cave, the Police conducted investigations, and on April 22, 2016, Phillips went to the Police station and reported what Caesar had done to Persaud and her children. He was subsequently charged with the murders.
The media reported that Phillips told detectives a short while after Caesar had gone over to the woman’s house, she had heard screams.
Phillips informed the Police that Caesar had gone to steal the woman’s money, but whilst doing so, she woke up and saw him. Because Persaud would be able to identify him, Phillips said, Caesar told her that he was forced to kill Persaud and her sons. Their throats were slit.
“This crime that was committed by Abishai Caesar is a despicable, unparalleled act of cold-blooded ruthless savagery, where an entire family…was meticulously and methodically brutally executed while [they] were in the security of their home,” Justice Kissoon said as he described the killings during a sentencing hearing on Wednesday.
The Judge told Caesar that he treated life and death as meaningless.
Considering this, the Judge said to Caesar, “It is only right, it is only proper, and it is only just, in view of your horrific crimes, having regard to the exceptional and specific circumstances, that…you be sentenced to death.”
The Judge, in imposing the capital punishment, considered that it was a crime of extreme violence, as the victims’ major organs sustained knife-inflicted injuries. According to him, their lives were snuffed out, and a mother was slaughtered and deprived of her children.
The High Court Judge also considered that the family was killed during a home invasion, while noting the convicted killer’s lack of remorse.
In the end, Justice Kissoon informed the killer that he would be taken into prison to suffer death in a manner authorised by law.
Justice has been served
The businesswoman’s father, Kumar Persaud, who had earlier testified to finding the lifeless bodies of his daughter and grandsons, said, “I’m happy with the verdict…Justice has been served. My daughter and grandsons can finally rest in peace”.
A probation report revealed that Caesar, who was once a teacher, was also enlisted in the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). It was noted therein that he served three months’ imprisonment for assaulting his reputed wife.
Meanwhile, Caesar received favourable reports from the prison. Prison officials told the probation officer that Caesar was helpful, and would assist other inmates with their studies. The killer is currently enrolled in anger management and barbering classes.
“Had to kill”
During her testimony at Caesar’s retrial, Phillips, who is now 25, told the court that during September 2021, both she and her spouse were unemployed.
She said Persaud and her children lived next door to them, and on the night of September 21, 2012, she and Caesar were in their bedroom before he went over to Persaud’s home to get money because he was “broke”.
She recalled that when Caesar left their home, he was clad in three-quarter pants. She recalled that he was carrying a small wooden-handle knife and a pair of gloves.
Phillips recounted that her ex-lover gained entry into the woman’s yard through an opening in a zinc fence. She said she went back into their bedroom, and about a minute after, she looked through the bedroom window and saw Caesar climbing up the stairs and into Persaud’s home.
Phillips told the court that she fell asleep and was awakened by a knocking on the back door.
It was Caesar, she added, carrying a cardboard box containing several $20 and $100 notes which amounted to $3000. When Caesar entered their home, Phillips said, he told her he “had to kill Jennifer” because she knew him very well, and that she woke up and saw him in her home.
Phillips said her then reputed husband also told her that he had to kill the children, because “they wudda wake up and cry”. The woman told the jury that when Caesar returned home, the knife and his pants were covered in blood.
Phillips recalled that Caesar took her to the seawall, where he threw the knife into the ocean. According to her, he disposed of the gloves and pants in some nearby bushes.
Phillips said she finally informed the Police that it was her spouse who had committed the crime. The woman said that on April 22, 2016, she went to the Tuschen Police Outpost, where she made a report and requested a restraining order against Caesar.
The now-convicted killer was arrested, she said, adding that during a confrontation between them at the Police station, she reminded him that he killed the family, but he told her that she was lying.
Asked why she had kept quiet for so long, Phillips said she was fearful of Caesar because he was abusive.