Lenford Harvey

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Harvey

Lenford "Steve" Harvey (1975?–2005) was a leader in the Jamaican HIV/AIDS community, and led several programs to assist people living with HIV/AIDS, and to promote safer-sex education and AIDS awareness in Jamaica.

In 1997, Harvey began working for Jamaica AIDS Support (JAS), becoming the group's coordinator for Kingston. In this position, he focused on distributing information and services surrounding HIV/AIDS to the most marginalised sectors of Jamaican society, among them prisoners, sex workers, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. In 2005, he was selected as LACCASO's (Latin America and Caribbean Council of AIDS Service Organizations) project coordinator for Jamaica.

In 2005, Jamaican police arrested four individuals whom they then committing with murder in the furtherance of a robbery. The accused remained in police custody for almost ten years before the case came to court. At that point, the police dropped their murder charges against two of the accused. The other two, Dwayne Owen and Andrew West, went on trial and were found unanimously guilty of murder by a jury. Although prosecutors had requested capital punishment in the case, the judge sentenced them to life in prison with a minimum of thirty years before becoming eligible for parole.

Life and activist[edit]

Harvey became involved with Jamaica AIDS Support in 1997.[1] He became the group's Kingston co-ordinator, and in this position primarily worked to ensure that the marginalised groups within the country – including prisoners, sex workers, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people – had access to information about the HIV/AIDS virus.[1] He was selected as Jamaica's representative at the Latin America and Caribbean Council of AIDS Service Organizations.[1] He was also a registered delegate to the conference of the People's National Party.[1]

Murder[edit]

Harvey's body was found at Pinewood Terrace on Wednesday, November 30.[2]

Reporter Gary Younge expressed the view that the killing "appears to have been a homophobic attack",[3] while an editorial in The New York Times noted that "the Harvey killing has the earmarks of a hate crime".[4]

The accused were from an area known as Vietnam in Grant's Pen.[2] Harvey's clothes, suitcases, jewellery, cellphones, and watches were recovered by police.[2]

Arrest and trial[edit]

Following investigations, in 2005 police arrested four individuals – Dwayne Owen, Andrew West, Ryan Wilson, and Chevaughn Gibson – charging them all with committing murder in the furtherance of a robbery.[5][6] Defence lawyers repeatedly complained that the prosecution had been late in handing over relevant documents to them.[7]

The case was brought before the Home Circuit Court on April 24, 2014, however it could not proceed because important documents had not been served on the defence.[7] The witnesses for the case, who included ten police officers and two civilians, were bound over.[8] Senior Puisne Judge Gloria Smith stated that no further adjournments of the case would be permitted, ordering the Director of Public Prosecutions to make full disclosure to the defence, and insisting that the trial must start on May 19.[7] In her words, "This case has been going on for far too long and has reached the point where something must happen."[8] However, on that date the trial was postponed again due to the unavailability of a courtroom, being rescheduled for June 1.[2] At that date it was again postponed, this time due to a shortage of available jurors, with the new date being set for July 7.[9]

In early July 2014, the prosecution announced that they were dropping all charges against Wilson, who was declared free to go after over eight years in prison.[5][6] They had determined that at the time of the murder he had been in custody at the Constant Spring Police Station.[6] The prosecution also stated that it was dropping the murder charges against Gibson, who would instead be charged with misprision of felony.[5] After a three week trial, in late July a twelve-person jury unanimously found both Owen and West guilty of murder.[6] The state prosecutors, Kathy Pryce and Karen Seymour Johnson, requested that Owen and West face the death penalty.[6][10] However, in November Justice Lloyd Hibbert sentenced them to life in prison, stipulating that they must serve a minimum of thirty years before becoming eligible for parole. He stated that in sentencing the pair he took into account the fact that they had already spent a decade in custody.[10] In December, both Owen and West launched appeals against their conviction.[11]

Independently of the Harvey case, West was also charged with being involved in the murder of Jamie Lue, a financial analyst at Alliance Capital Limited, who had been abducted, robbed and killed in December 2005.[2]

Reaction[edit]

According to Peter Tatchell of the British LGBT rights organisation OutRage!, "It is thanks to the efforts of Steve and his colleagues that many Jamaican men and women - both gay and straight - have not contracted HIV. They have helped save hundreds of lives."[3]

Rebecca Schleifer, a researcher with Human Rights Watch's HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Program, stated that Harvey was "a person of extraordinary bravery and integrity, who worked tirelessly to ensure that some of Jamaica's most marginalized people had the tools and information to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS".[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Jamaica: HIV/AIDS Activist Steve Harvey Mourned". Human Rights Watch. November 30, 2005. Archived from the original on February 1, 2016. Retrieved February 1, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "June 1 trial for Steve Harvey murder accused". Jamaica Observer. May 20, 2014. Archived from the original on June 27, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Gary Younge (December 6, 2005). "Jamaican gay activist shot dead after being abducted". The Guardian. Archived from the original on August 29, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Who Murdered Steve Harvey?". The New York Times. December 13, 2005. 
  5. ^ a b c Barbara Gayle (July 15, 2014). "Accused in 'Steve' Harvey murder set free". Jamaican Gleaner. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Barbara Gayle (July 31, 2014). "Accused found guilty of the murder of AIDS activist, Steve Harvey". Jamaican Gleaner. Archived from the original on January 4, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c Barbara Gayle (April 28, 2014). "No further adjournment to be granted in HIV/AIDS activist murder case". Jamaican Gleaner. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Barbara Gayle (April 29, 2014). "Judge won't put off 2006 murder case anymore". Jamaican Gleaner. Archived from the original on April 29, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Shortage of jurors stalls murder trial". Jamaica Observer. June 4, 2014. Archived from the original on January 4, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  10. ^ a b Barbara Gayle (November 14, 2014). "Convicts get life imprisonment for murder of AIDS activist". Jamaican Gleaner. Archived from the original on January 4, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Men convicted of killing gay activist file appeals". Jamaica Observer. December 27, 2014. Archived from the original on May 20, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 

External links[edit]