Vanique Gumbs will be a young lady when her father Vandyke King, a former police officer, and security officer at the Argyle International Airport (AIA), is released from prison, after serving a sentence of 17 years plus for murder.
But the March 7, 2020 slaying of her mother Mickeisha Gumbs, may never be erased from her mind. Vanique was one-year-old at the time of incident, and was the only child the intimate relationship between King and Gumbs produced.
But Gumbs, a 26-year-old former preschool teacher also had two elder daughters, from a previous relationship.
At the sentencing hearing at the Criminal Assizes on Tuesday, King, 36, was sentenced to 17 years, 4 months, and 17 days for the murder of Gumbs, who was stabbed multiple times in her neck, in the presence of her children, on the evening of March 7, 2020.
King had pleaded guilty on June 27, 2022, but sentencing was adjourned.
According to the facts as presented by Justice Brian Cottle on Monday, Gumbs who was not living with King, had left home with two of her children and others, to pick up the one-year-old, who was at another home. King, who was in the area, asked a villager to lend him a cutlass. The villager refused and King tried, but was unable to take the cutlass from him.
King was questioning the woman in relation to whose vehicle she had been in earlier and she and her 9-year-old daughter told King that someone gave them a ride in a car from Colonaire to Park Hill.
Gumbs continued on her way, but King left the scene, returned with two knives, and pursued the woman. She tripped and fell in a garden, and it was at this stage that King inflicted the stab wounds to her neck.
Justice Cottle had adjourned sentencing to Tuesday following a sterling mitigation plea by King’s lawyer Duane Daniel on Monday which Cottle said he needed some time to consider.
Daniel had referenced several affidavits filed by persons who knew King well, including an employee at the Argyle International Airport (AIA), a police officer, King’s mother Silma, and other members of his community. They all referred to the incident as being out of character, and said they were surprised when they heard what had happened, as King was not known to be aggressive, or a troublesome, and they found it difficult to come to grips with what had come over him that day.
His mother described King’s relationship with Gumbs as having “some ups and downs”, but added, “She (Gumbs) was the love of his life”. The woman referred to her son as “a good boy”.
Daniel also read the contents of an interview he did with King, while in prison in which King told him that Gumbs said she had taken an abortion because she was not sure whose child it was, and she had mentioned four names of persons with whom she had relationships.
According to the contents of the interview, King said Gumbs had stabbed him a number of times, but he never made any report to the police. He said Gumbs used to accuse him of cheating on her, and told him that it was because he cheated on her, why she also cheated on him.
Daniel, in his mitigation plea said, “This is clearly a crime of passion. He made it clear, “I am not saying that because he loved her so much he had the right to take her life, but he raised the possibility of psychological, emotional and physical factors, in the circumstances.
Daniel said that King’s mistake was that he did not understand that at some point you have to let go.
The lawyer expressed the view that, “It is hard to assume that this prisoner at the bar (King) is going to find himself in a situation like this again. This is a lesson for him”.
Acknowledging that King was wrong, Daniel said while we do not condone certain actions, we are not incapable of empathy, we are not incapable of compassion, and we are not incapable of mercy.
In handing down the penalty on Tuesday, Justice Cottle followed the sentencing guidelines, and considered Daniel’s mitigation plea as well as the sentencing submissions of the crown.
In highlighting the aggravating factors, he contended that the murder was committed in a public place, and in the presence of children, and that one of these children, a 9-year-old, now has sleepless nights. He noted that King left the scene and armed himself with two knives.
He found no relevant aggravating factors in relation to the offender, but found the aggravating factors in relation to the offence to be significant. He started with a notional sentence of 30 years. King, however, received a one-third discount for his guilty plea, and the two years, seven months and 16 days spent on remand deducted. After doing the calculations, he arrived at the sentence of 17 years, 4 months and 17 days.