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Eleven Senators, Three Governors make appeals for Leniency; Five Americans now face 12 Years in Prison

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Deandrea Hamilton                                                                                                                              

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#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2024 – US law makers are going to bat bigtime for their citizens detained in the Turks and Caicos for breach of the firearms ordinance, a congressional delegation arrived on Sunday for talks on an amicable  conclusion in the controversial court matters.

Here for a meeting set to take place today,   the congressional delegation is led by Senator Markwayne Mullin.

Five tourists are facing the 12 year minimum for possession of bullets, they say were inadvertently left in their checked baggage, but they can get a lesser sentence if the judge rules that it is warranted under the ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ clause in the Firearms Ordinance, newly amended and stiffened in 2022.

Eleven U.S. Senators and three State Governors have addressed letters to the TCI government beckoning for leniency in the cases of American citizens charged and detained for breach of Turks and Caicos gun laws which strictly prohibit the possession of unregistered firearms or ammunition; an infraction which carries with it a penalty of 12 years imprisonment.

It became known that at least one governor was communicating with Daleeni Daniel- Selveratnam, Turks and Caicos Governor about the unsettling situation.

J Kevin Stitt, Governor of Oklahoma appeared on television vocalizing his thoughts, calling the mandatory 12 year sentence “absurd.”  His letter for leniency was endorsed by Josh Shapiro, Governor of Pennsylvania and Glenn Youngkin, the Governor of Virginia.

“We humbly ask that your government – in its wisdom – temper justice with mercy and recognize that these made mistakes but had no apparent malicious intent,” states the May 14th letter signed by all three governors.

Twelve days before, Senators had already expressed their dire concern in correspondence dated May 2nd.

Magnetic Media obtained that letter which 11 senators have supported; their dispatch issued to the Attorney General of the Turks and Caicos, Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, KC.

Senators Markwayne Mullin, Oklahoma; Robert P. Casey Jr, Pennsylvania; Mark Warner, Virginia; Tim Kaine, Virginia; James Lankford, Oklahoma; Michael Cloud, Texas; John Fetterman, Pennsylvania; Bob Good, Virginia; Guy Reschenthaler, Pennsylvania; Josh Brecheen, Oklahoma and former presidential contender, Ted Cruz of Texas boldly signed the document, with strong words for the TCIG.

“We do not discount the fact that the authorities in Turks and Caicos take the presence of unspent ammunition cartridges seriously to prioritize the safety of its civilians. However, based on our relationships and understanding of the circumstances of these American citizens, we strongly urge you to exercise leniency when reviewing their cases.”

Both letters point to the current good relationship between the Turks and Caicos and the United States as the reason to have the cases of Michael Lee Evans, 72 of Texas; Bryan Hagerich, Pennsylvania; Tyler Wenrich, 31 of Virginia and Ryan Watson, 40 of Oklahoma come to a reasonable conclusion.

Since Monday May 13, added to the four men and despite the media attention and US State Department warnings, Sharitta Grier, 45 of Orlando, Florida was arrested, sentenced and is now out on bail on near identical charges.

She is the fifth American held in recent months for the discovery of ammunition upon departure of the islands.

Grier, was on Thursday May 16 arraigned for allegedly having two bullets in her baggage; detected as she was exiting the Turks and Caicos following a Mother’s Day getaway with her daughter.  By Friday, bail had been granted to the woman who is still expressing shock at the gravity of the consequences; a dozen years in a Grand Turk prison.

A week earlier, a Thursday May 8, media release by the Turks and Caicos National Security Council informed of the Attorney General’s report to the group, which included the Premier, Minister of Tourism and Governor on the nuances of the legislation, according to a recent Court of Appeal decision.

“The Attorney-General, in respect of the law applicable to the cases against US Nationals on charges relating to the possession of ammunition, confirmed that an Attorney General’s Reference to the Court of Appeal certified that where a court finds there are exceptional circumstances, the sentencing judge has discretion under the law, to impose a custodial sentence and a fine that are fair and just in the circumstances of each case rather than impose the mandatory minimum. The Chief Justice is advancing sentencing guidelines in this respect.”

On Sunday, Senator Mullin of Oklahoma landed in Provo, with him:  “Rep. Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania; Rep. Good of Virginia; Rep. Brecheen of Oklahoma and Rep. Cloud of Texas.  They have a few staff members and an escort of four marines.  They will be in meetings all day. We are hoping for an agreeable resolution today,” explained a source close to the senate.

We’ve also learned that the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis may climb aboard this train in the name of reasonable justice after Floridian, Sharitta Shiniee Grier was last week charged.

On social media, Grier has opened up about her arrest.

“Once the police cuffed my leg to a chair and left me in a room by myself I started crying out to the Good Lord, saying I know you are real but I need you to move for me, right now!  I need you to show me a sign that I’m going to be alright.”

Grier explains that before she could wipe away tears, “Mrs. Susan and her husband My Pop Pop” turned up, came to check on her while in police custody and are now lending her moral support.

Court correspondent Wilkie Arthur informed that during Grier’s arraignment, the courtroom was filled with some of the other Americans accused and their families; in her post, she called Ryan (Hagerich) and Bryan (Watson), both men who share a vacation villa as they await verdicts in their bullet possession matters, her ‘brothers.’

“I know it was God who placed them in my life.  They have a heart of gold, just like me and I love them. We are family forever.”

It is this kind of solidarity that the defendants hope will work in their favour as their Representatives have reportedly taken advocacy to a new level; landing at the private airport in Providenciales on Sunday to – in person – make appeals on behalf of the five Americans with the hope of seeing them avoid the lengthy prison term mandated by TCI law.

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Sada Williams: Training alongside the best athletes in the world to become the pride of Barbados at Paris 2024

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Source Olympics.com

 

After participating in both the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, 400m runner from Barbados Sada Williams hopes that the help she has received through her Olympic Solidarity scholarship, and the ability to train in Jamaica, will take her to the top at Paris 2024.

Sada Williams will be cheered on by the whole of Barbados at the Olympic Games Paris 2024, but the athlete appears relaxed about shouldering the hopes of an entire nation. She has the chance to become the first woman from the eastern Caribbean island to finish on the podium at the Olympic Games, and only the second athlete, after Obadele Thompson claimed the 100m bronze medal at Sydney 2000.

“There’s no pressure, really,” says Williams. “I know Barbados will be proud of me regardless of the outcome, and I couldn’t be happier to represent them at the Games.”

Aside from earning a medal in Paris, Williams is also hoping to break the 48-second barrier and record a personal best. The 26-year-old’s upward trajectory certainly suggests she is capable of this, with her bronze medals at the 2022 and 2023 World Athletics Championships coming either side of a gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Williams believes her recent performances have been helped by a move to Jamaica, where she trains in the same group as multiple Olympic medallist Shericka Jackson.

“I have training partners who are some of the best athletes in the world – training and competing with them is really great. It pushes me and us to be better athletes. In Barbados, I didn’t really have that type of competition or training group.”

Olympic Solidarity support

Williams’s move from Barbados to Jamaica was supported by an Olympic Solidarity scholarship, which provides financial assistance to athletes through monthly grants.

“The scholarship has provided me with the necessary funding to train and compete here in Jamaica. It’s also given me the opportunity to travel to various meets around the world, and to compete in and prepare for major competitions, such as the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games.”

The scholarship has also shown Williams that coming from a small country with fewer resources for sport does not have to be a barrier to success.

“It shows me that there are people out there who believe in me and my potential,” she says. “They want to see me succeed at the highest level while representing my country. So, I’m truly grateful for that opportunity.”

Lessons from the Olympic Games

Paris 2024 won’t be Williams’s first appearance at the Olympic Games. Her time at Tokyo 2020 was “bittersweet”, after she failed to progress from the 400m semi-finals. But Williams also learnt a lot from her very first Olympic experience in 2014. Aged 16, she competed at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, reaching the 400m final.

When Williams was a teenager, there was no female athlete from Barbados whose success she could look to replicate. But now she is a source of inspiration for the next generation from her home country. She is hopeful Barbados can one day rise to the levels of neighbouring Jamaica and become an athletics powerhouse.

“I always hope that I’m inspiring young athletes from Barbados, whether I compete locally or internationally,” she says. “I always want the best for track and field in Barbados. I want other athletes in Barbados to believe that they can excel at the highest levels without needing to leave the country. It would be really nice to have the same facilities and resources as Jamaica or the United States in Barbados.”

Over 1,300 athletes supported through Olympic Solidarity

A total of 1,331 athletes from 159 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), covering 26 sports, received Olympic Solidarity scholarships for Paris 2024. Olympic Solidarity aims to ensure that talented athletes of all backgrounds have an equal chance of reaching and succeeding in the Olympic arena by providing crucial funding to help finance their Olympic dreams. With a particular focus on athletes and NOCs most in need, individual scholarship-holders receive financial support through monthly grants that contribute to their preparation and qualification for the Games, whether in their home country or at a high-level training centre abroad.

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NATIONAL PRIMARY SCHOOL SPELLING BEE RESULTS

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Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, 14th June 2024 – Sponsored by F Chambers and Islands Printing, and in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, on June 4, 2024 saw a keenly contested Primary Schools Spelling Bee.

After an intense competition, we are thrilled that Marbelli Costillo of these amazing sixteen (16) spellers emerged victorious as the top speller. Marbelli represented Provo Christian School. We are extremely proud of each and every one of the spellers who showcased their exceptional spelling skills and represented their schools with excellence.

To the spellers we can say that your hard work, determination, and dedication have truly paid off. Your commitment to learning and your passion for language have set you apart as outstanding spellers and students.

Congratulations once again to all the participants. Keep reaching for the stars and never stop exploring the power of words!

Sixteen (16) spellers from across the country competed for the coveted title of Champion Speller, they included:

Adelaide Oemler Primary: Amber Gonzales and Coach Stafford Salmon

Alpha Christian Academy: Elaynie Regis and Coach Heather Robertson

B.E.S.T. Institute: Sydney Kay Brisbane and Coach Tanisha Rigby

C Hubert James Primary: Tivon Wright and Coach Uldean Harris-Wright

Community Christian Academy: Khamora Coalbrooke and Coach Glenda Jones

Eliza Simons Primary: Kevaun Lamoy Lewis and Coach Althia Rocke

Enid Capron Primary: Herifer Fermin and Coach Elizabeth Vandenburg

Ianthe Pratt Primary: Karessa Wynter and Coach Daniela Carroll

Iris Stubbs Primary:  Hernadgeka Pierre and Coach Debrica Davids-Beckford  
International School of the TCI: Lola Jimenez and Coach Iman Rudi-Bonotti

Ona Glinton Primary: Malachi Warlock and Coach Jacqueline Henry

Oseta Jolly Primary: Edley Charles and Coach Tevyon Lewis

Precious Treasures International School: Jaden James and Coach Monique Fletcher

Provo Christian Academy: Marbelli Castillo and Coach Terry-Ann Roberts

Richmond Hill Preparatory: Dabria Thomas and Coach Veranick Burrick-Sinclair

Shining Stars Preparatory: Danae Leslie and Coach Aldith Campbell

The top Three winners were

Winner  Marbelli Castillo, Provo Christian School

1st Runner Up Jaden James, Precious Treasures International School

2nd Runner Up Lola Jimenez, International School of the Turks & Caicos

The following prizes were sponsored by Sponsors F Chambers, Island Printing & TCI Paint

Grand Prize/Winner: MacBook Air

1st Runner Up Prize: Apple iPad Mini

2nd Runner Up Prize: Apple iPad Mini

Top 7 of final 10: Asus Memo Tablet

Remaining Participants: $50 gift certificates

Complimentary Trophies for everyone

The Champion Coach received a Lenovo laptop sponsored by the Department of Education

A special thank you is extended to all volunteers who helped to make the competition a success:

CHAIRPERSON Ms Jacqueline Henry

SCORERS Ms Evadne Williams and Mr David Bowen

JUDGES Mrs Claudette Dean, Pastor Pedro S Williams and Mrs. Latoya Skippings

PRONOUNCERS Ms Shelaine Been and Ms. Kawanza Morley

TIMEKEEPER  Mr. Jermaine Fulford

Profound thank you is extended to Ms. Tanya Swann, Director of Sales and her team of Groups and Conventions at Beaches Turks and Caicos for coordinating the hosting of the event at the resort and providing complimentary snacks.

Commenting as Lead Sponsor: Mark Fulford Managing Partner of F Chambers said “It’s good to see a growing participation in the TCI National Spelling Bee. This year we saw 16 schools compete and the energy and healthy spirit of competition grew as well. As sponsors we will continue to work with the Ministry of Education to raise the caliber of this prestigious event. It is always a pleasure to give back and we salute our corporate friends at TCI Paint who joined hands with us again to make all the donations a reality. Congratulations to the 2024 winner……and all the participants on a Job well done. It is evident that a lot of work was put in and simply making it to the National Spelling Bee deserves recognition.”

Minister of Education, Hon. Rachel Taylor extended congratulation to all sixteen (16) schools who participated in this year’s National Spelling Bee. They are all winners and have represented their schools well! Special commendation to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners whose efforts have aided in their victory. Through this event, our young spellers experience the joy of learning new words, understanding their pronunciation and meanings, enhancing their spelling skills, and enriching their vocabulary. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the brave young ladies and gentlemen chosen to represent their schools. I also express sincere gratitude to the teachers, members of the Education Department led by Mrs. Sarah Kennedy and our private partners for their dedication to the success of this event. My Ministry views these events as crucial for the overall development of our children.

The Ministry and Department of Education event coordinator, Mrs. Sarah Kennedy commended the participants for not only demonstrating their spelling prowess but also their ability to handle pressure with grace. “We applaud your achievements and the dedication you have shown to honing your spelling skills. Each one of you is a shining example of the values we hold dear for the future for our beautiful by nature islands”.

She also expressed heartfelt gratitude to the coaches and parents who have provided guidance, support, and encouragement to our spellers throughout their preparation for this competition. Your unwavering belief in their abilities has played a vital role in their success.

Turks and Caicos Islands National Primary School Spelling Bee continues to promote success  and again we say thanks to the sponsorship of the leading corporate sponsors, F Chambers and Island Printing, TCI Paint, FLOW, Radio Turks & Caicos and Beaches Turks & Caicos.

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Life Sentence for “Mad Max”

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#TurksandCaicos, June 18, 2024 – KENDALL RONDRE DEAN has been sentenced to LIFE IMPRISONMENT for the murder of JOSHUA SWANN.  Mr. Dean, also known as “Maddie,” “Mad Max,” and “Dre,” was sentenced on June 10th, 2024, to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 30 years.

A nine-member jury found Mr. Dean guilty on April 22nd in the Grand Turk Supreme Court.  Based on the evidence presented, Mr. SWANN of Five Cays was shot multiple times about the body on Sunday, August 8th, 2021, while at North West Point in Providenciales.

Mr. Swann was transported to the Cheshire Hall Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries.  Detectives of the Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) received a report, and following intensive investigations and interviews, Mr. Dean was arrested and subsequently charged.

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