After sitting through hours of deliberations Tuesday over what kind of sentence a pair of killers should get in the death of two people, including a 10-month-old baby, a Miami-Dade judge decided to postpone the case.
Jimmie L. Bowen and Bernard M. Jones, convicted last year of killing Pierre Roche, 26, and the infant, Derrick Days, Jr., were in Miami-Dade Circuit Court Tuesday facing life sentences. The two were 16 and 17, respectively, at the time of the crime.
In June 2012, the U. S. Supreme Court barred mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles in homicide cases. This is the second such case to come before the court involving juveniles convicted of first-degree murder after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Bowen and Jones can get a maximum life sentence but because they were teenagers at the time of the crime, the judge must take their age into consideration.
The sentencing hearing will resume on Sept. 18, according to Circuit Judge Bertila Soto.
On Tuesday, both men, wearing matching orange jump suits, walked into the courtroom handcuffed to each other.
The prosecutors argued that Bowen, who has a history of violence and had amassed an arsenal of four assault rifles and two shotguns, was a danger to society and should be given the maximum sentence of life without parole.
Bowen had “very strong anti-social traits,” said psychologist Enrique Suarez who evaluated him. “His release to the community would be like releasing wildfire,” Suarez said.
The defense argued that Bowen’s rough upbringing – witnessing the physical abuse of his mother by his father and later stepfather – and his ADHD limited him from accepting the consequences of his actions. That should be considered during sentencing, said psychologist Michael Bannon.
“People with ADHD don’t anticipate consequences very well,” said Bannon, who evaluated Bowen for the defense. “They are impulsive. They are like fast speedy cars without good brakes .”
Jones’ family testified that he was a good kid who got mixed up with the wrong crowd after his mother died of breast cancer in 2008. He had been a loving and protective brother and active in his local church, family member said.
“I know if he was given a second chance he would ever get in this situation again,” said his aunt Berthena Bullard.
If Bowen and Jones receive the maximum sentence of life without the possibly of parole, they will be the first two Miami-Dade juvenile to do so after the Supreme Court’s decision.
“We don’t know what will happen,” state prosecutor Santiago Aroca said. “But there will most likely be an appeal.”
The December 2008 shooting in Brownsville was a result of gang violence, investigators said.
State prosecutors said the violent New Moneii gang, which Bowen and Jones belonged to, controlled the Annie Coleman Gardens housing project, better known as The Rockies.
Roche, the victim, had been selling drugs in the area and also had been involved in previous shootouts with gang members.
On the day of the killings, Bowen saw Roche outside the housing project playing dominoes at table with a group of men, including Derrick Days, Sr., who was holding his infant son.
Bowen said he was going to “smash Roche,” and asked other gang members “who wanted to earn his stripes” – meaning who wanted to join in the attack.
Jones eagerly agreed, investigators said.
Bowen drove by, saw Roche at the table, playing with the baby.
With Jones at the wheels, Bowen returned the scene, and intentionally aimed for the baby, thinking that Roche was the father, investigators said. The child was sitting in his father’s lap at the time.
A third man also was shot in the face, but survived.
After Judge Soto announced the postponement Tuesday, Derrick Days Sr. said: “We’re ready for it to be over. We’re still suffering and we don’t have closure yet.”