Family of murdered businessman wants killer to get maximum penalty

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Relatives of one of the two men murdered by Maximilian Roberts say they would like to see the convict get a stiff penalty, as the date for the sentencing approaches.

The family members, in a joint response to OBSERVER media, said they have been waiting for “justice” since their loved one Zephaniah “Zephy” Joseph was gunned down outside his business place six years ago.

“Justice is long overdue. Justice has to be served. If you don’t obey the laws of the country you have to suffer the penalty. So, we hope the judge takes that into consideration when doing the sentencing. We hope the person who killed him gets the maximum penalty. The biggest part of our family is that our mother didn’t see the justice for her husband’s death,” they said.

Under the laws of Antigua and Barbuda, the maximum penalty for murder is the death sentence, but that has not been applied since the early ‘90s. The law says this is only used where the manner in which the crime was committed was “the worst of the worst and rarest of the rare.”

In recent years though, several convicted murderers have been given sentences of life in prison.

Meanwhile, Joseph’s relatives said they are sure the family members of Roberts’ other victim, Edwin James, feel the same way about what’s deserving in terms of penalty.

James, who was Joseph’s employee, lived at Yorks at the time and he was 29 years old. Joseph of Cedar Valley was 75 years old at the time of his death. He owned and managed Ottos Multi-tyre Centre on All Saints Road.

The businessman’s family said they are reminded daily of the senseless killings as they continue to operate the business from the same location and residents often reminisce of what happened and the type of individual Joseph was.

“It is affecting us tremendously so we try not to relive those moments because reliving it is not easy. Unless you go through it you cannot understand. He was a pillar of the community, he was taken out for no reason, just selfish, unnecessary violence.”

“He was peaceful, he served the community well, he was loved by the people of Antigua and Barbuda and he was taken out so senselessly,” the relatives recounted.

Last week, Roberts, who was 23 at the time he

murdered the two men, pleaded guilty to both murder charges and was remanded for sentencing on June 24.

It was on July 20, 2013 that he pounced on the two men and opened fire on them while they were sitting under a shed outside the business place. James was pronounced dead on arrival at Mount St. John’s Medical Centre while Joseph died a few days later.

Efforts to reach James’ family for comment over the weekend were unsuccessful.

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