Was killing my husband worth it? — Murdered phone card vendor’s widow asks bandits

Mark Welch (behind Prison Officer) and Alexander La Cruz (in black shirt)

Each of the two men who admitted to robbing and killing Westminster, West Bank Demerara (WBD) phone card vendor Ron Mansfield will be sentenced tomorrow. Before Demerara High Court Judge Simone Morris-Ramlall, they had earlier pleaded guilty to a joint murder charge.

Alexander La Cruz, aged 31, a father of two who was previously a resident of West Meten-Meer-Zorg, West Coast Demerara (WCD), and 31-year-old Mark Welch Jr, formerly of West La Penitence, Georgetown, admitted that they killed Mansfield on June 19, 2018.

In a victim impact statement given to the court last week, Mansfield’s widow, Anthea, revealed to the robbers that she finds it difficult to forget the violent way her husband was taken from her.

“We did everything together,” the emotional woman who made her statement via Zoom said, describing her late partner as “a people person, loving, funny and charismatic.”

Fighting to hold back tears, Anthea expressed that no amount of punishment could replace her husband’s life while adding that “greed” prompted others to take his belongings.

Anthea revealed that Ron was killed two months shy of their seventh wedding anniversary. Ron’s 21-year-old daughter said that, at the age of 16, she lost her father, six months after her mother passed away. The young woman said that following the death of their father, she and her brother had a terrible time getting by and were even forced to live with strangers.

Ambitious, smart, loving, and kind were the words she used to describe her late father. The now-dead man’s daughter questioned her father’s killers about whether or not killing her father was worth it, much like her stepmother Anthea did.

When asked by the Judge if he had anything to say, La Cruz, who worked as a taxi driver/tattoo artist prior to his incarceration told Mansfield’s daughter, “I had no intention to take your father’s life. I am very sorry.” He confessed that he was paid $60,000 to transport the robbers to and from the scene.

Welch, on the other hand, told the Judge, “I am just begging for mercy. I would never do it again; I didn’t do no shooting.” Both convicts had favourable probation reports. They have never been sanctioned by the prison service for bad conduct. In fact, Welch works as an orderly in the prison, helping to maintain order among his fellow inmates.

La Cruz and Welch’s attorney, Tuanna Hardy, for her part, stated that her clients are deserving of rehabilitation and are in the process of turning a new leaf. She said Welch acted as the “lookout” man.

Murdered: Ron Mansfield

In calculating an appropriate sentence, she asked the Judge to consider the men’s previous unblemished criminal record as well as their early guilty pleas. In the circumstances, Hardy begged the court to temper justice with mercy.

Meanwhile, State Prosecutors Delon Fraser and Madana Rampersaud asked the court to impose a sentence that reflects the serious nature and prevalence of the offence. The men’s use of a deadly weapon and gratuitous brutality against an unarmed man who did not pose a threat to them were underlined by the prosecutors as aggravating elements.

The use of a gun shows that they intended to kill or cause their victim serious harm, the prosecutors submitted. Fraser and Rampersaud also asked the court to take into account the impact Ron’s death has had and continues to have on his family.

On June 19, 2018, Mansfield, 37, a father of two, had just arrived home after plying his trade when he was attacked and shot by gunmen during a robbery. He succumbed to his injuries while being transported to the West Demerara Regional Hospital (WDRH). The attack had occurred at around 20:30h.

“The victim, who was discovered with a gunshot injury to the body, was reportedly returning home from selling phone cards on his motorcycle,” Police had said. His bag containing his phone cards and money was not found, according to the Police.