Nicole Richards is utterly unhappy with the 30-year jail sentence imposed on the man who brutally murdered her daughter, Shariece Henry, almost three years ago. The disappointed mom is calling for legislators to make the penalty for such crimes harsher to deter criminal behavior and deliver justice to victims’ families.
The mother opened up in an emotional interview with OBSERVER media yesterday, saying that the sentence handed down to Omarley “Drop Sleep” Henry last Friday brought tears to her eyes and gave her an instant headache because she believes it amounts to a slap on the wrist.
Richards said that before the sentencing hearing she was asked to participate in a victim impact assessment which formed part of the court-ordered Social Inquiry Report.
She said she does not believe any weight was attached to how badly the incident has affected the family members’ lives.
“I can’t imagine why they asked me to come and give a statement about how I feel and how it impacted me, because I cannot think that it impacted the sentence. If I didn’t go, what? Would he then have gotten 20 years? It is awful. I don’t understand how … you’d want to lock him up forever, because they don’t belong in society; he is awful, he has always been awful,” she said.
She indicated that it is not understandable that someone who chopped and stabbed her daughter earned a reduction in the sentence simply because he pleaded guilty.
“You have to be kidding me … I don’t understand why a judge would do that. So, if you know the law you can beat the system if you just say sorry,” she said, adding that she is certain the killer has no remorse for his actions because he was abusive for a prolonged period and kept saying sorry. Additionally, at the time of the killing on November 28th 2016, he was on bail for holding her daughter in his house against her will just three months prior.
Richards said it is “a joke” that Omarley Henry was sentenced to four years for the kidnapping and the sentence is to be served concurrently with the 30 years for murder.
The mother said even before her daughter was murdered, she was fearful for her safety because of the things she had been experiencing. But, Richards recalled, she was often reassured that all was well after her daughter ended the relationship with Omarley Henry.
However, all was not well. On that fateful day, the man pulled up in a car alongside her daughter and threatened to shoot her if she did not get into the vehicle he was driving – a vehicle that belonged to a friend who had told him he could not borrow it to go anywhere that afternoon.
He kept her from leaving and she called out to his mother, who lived in the same yard, to tell her what was happening and asked her to speak with her son so that he would let her go. Within minutes the screams from the victim and her daughter pierced through the night, alerting residents to the tragic and vicious attack that he unleashed inside.
By the time the killer’s relatives reacted and got to his house he had escaped and the victim was left bleeding profusely with 31 stabs and chops to the upper body.
Richards said that when she got the news while on campus abroad where she was studying, she “almost passed out,” and her friends had to help her every day after that.
At the funeral, she collapsed, stricken with grief that no one could console, and up to now, when she thinks of the violence meted out to her child, she feels pain at the back of her neck, and she has been getting counseling.
“I have a pain at the back of my neck that flares up from time to time when thinking about it, there are times when I just cry, just cry, thinking about my child and what she had gone through. I cannot believe that they can let him out…even though I wasn’t there I can feel what she went through, the pain and crying and bawling for her life…he continuously did it and now he’s saying sorry? You don’t mean sorry when you are doing it continuously,” Richards said.
Speaking about the impact that the killing has had on her granddaughter who witnessed the incident, Richards said, “Even now when she cries she calls her mother’s name, she has psychological problems…I don’t even want to talk about it. She showed the trauma…she went through something significant.”
The woman said she believes that when the killer is released, she has to worry about her safety “because he no longer has anything to lose.”
“I am going to be afraid for my life because he does not like me. I am going to be afraid to walk on the same road as him. Just like my daughter had to be afraid for her life, I am going to be afraid for my life because I don’t think that he will change anything. He is not sorry. So, I have that to look out for, knowing he will be out and he is going to terrorize me because that is what is going to happen. I am afraid for my life because maybe he is going to be upset that I kept his child; I have custody of her,” she reiterated.
Richards said it is unfair to the family as she noted the 30-year jail sentence means the killer will come out when he is still young.
Omarley Henry, who was born on September 29, 1989, is due to be out in less than 30 calendar years, considering he has already spent three years on remand and the fact that a jail year is usually eight months due to the one-third reduction given for good behavior.
“How could that be justified in this case?” Richards asked rhetorically, as she noted that the convicted man “has always gotten away with everything. He has never learned a lesson. He had cases before and has never learned.”
She recommended, “We have a parliament that we can go and change laws. This needs to teach us that something needs to be done about changing the laws of this country. Somebody was saying that the death penalty is still on the books, but it is just not enforced, so why?”
When told that it is only granted where the killing is deemed the “worst of the worst and rarest of the rare,” Richards replied, “They need to come to us and explain what qualifies as rarest of the rare and worst of the worst. What is the rarest of the rare?”
The mother said nothing was normal about the killing of her child.
According to the medical evidence, Shariece Henry sustained eight stabs to the shoulder, neck, chest, arm, and breasts; seven stabs to the left hand; five stabs to the right hand; five stabs to the face as deep as 6.8 cm; and six chops to the head. The victim’s skull had multiple fractures, and the scalp was left hanging off the skull; two fingers were severed from the left hand, and one was partially severed from the right hand; while the stabs to her breast area penetrated her heart and the stabs to her neck penetrated her larynx. The injuries were inflicted with a cleaver and a 12.7 cm blade knife; the blade of the latter was recovered from the victim’s left chest area where it had broken off when she was stabbed from back to front in the presence of her child.
“She did not do him any wrong,” Richards stressed.
“I think we should go back to parliament to change the laws because you have to try and deter persons from doing these things because if they know they are young and they know they can plead guilty and get a lesser sentence because the lawyers are going to tell them to do this, they can just go and take out somebody and go up to the jail eat, don’t work and then come out in the next few years still young,” she recommended.
Richards said she hopes her call for this change gets support.
She noted that some people have the mentality that they need not say anything and get involved because it did not happen to them.
“We are the ones who have to face these things; we live in the country, and we have the right to tell the lawmakers these things have to be changed, we have to change the laws. Nobody knows what is going to happen next, they have to deter somebody from doing it to you,” she warned.
Another point she raised was that the killer was supported in his actions, particularly by the people who allegedly “continued to tell him things” about the deceased, according to Richards.
“A lot of us as women have sons like that and we are not thinking about what can happen. People from the community support him, and people also need to stop ridiculing people in these kinds of situations which makes them feel afraid to get help and ashamed to say something,” she advised.
The grieving mother added, “If you know that a young woman is or was in an abusive relationship, you think it is your right to go tell the man, put fuel on the fire, and tell the man things about the lady, what is going to happen? Persons were continuously going to him telling him things, persons who did not like her, that’s what she was telling me, telling him things all the time. So, what they think was going to happen? A lot of them are very wicked in society,” the mother concluded.
The victim and the killer had been in an on-and-off relationship for some time, and the night when she died, several people spoke about the abusive, violent behavior of the killer towards her, other people in his community, as well as fellow footballers.