The Vincentian man who murdered his Cuban wife, Arianna Taylor-Israel, outside his alma mater — which one of their sons was attending — in Kingstown on Jan. 30, 2020 has been sentenced to 38 years in prison.
Justice Rickie Burnett handed down the sentence at High Court No. 2, in Kingstown today (Monday), having rejected an application by prosecutor Richie Maitland that murder Mitchel Israel spend the rest of his life in prison.
The judge, however, noted the seriousness of Israel’s crime and said that the court must send a message of deterrence and rehabilitation.
Israel wore a facemask and used a leather portfolio to further hide his face from the media as he was escorted back to prison to complete his sentence.
He remained silent as iWitness News asked him how he felt about the sentence and the impact that the court said his crime had had on his two sons.
In his sentencing remarks, Justice Rickie Burnett quoted the social report as saying that the couple’s son lost both of their parents on the day of the killing and this had had a lasting impact on them.
In determining the starting sentence, Justice Burnett noted that the defence — father and daughter duo Linton and Maffika Lewis — argued that while the murder was committed in the presence of children and near an educational institution, this should be given lesser weight because Israel had gone to the school to pick up his children, as he usually did.
The defence argued that it was by chance that the killing had occurred in the presence of children.
However, the Crown had argued that the crime was committed in view of the public and was unprovoked.
The prosecution had further noted that Israel had attempted to discard the murder weapon — a revolver that he had a permit to carry — and that there was a history of abuse in the relationship.
The judge held that the court could not deny that the murder had had an impact on the students of the school, as this was the evidence of one of the students who witnessed it.
The court also held that the murder was committed in view of the public.
Justice Burnett said Israel had attempted to discard the firearm after the killing, but later assisted police in retrieving it.
He said that the aggravating features of the killing outweighed the mitigating and the court moved up from its starting point by two year.
Mitigating of Israel was that he was of good character, with no previous conviction at age 61, when he murdered his wife.
The judge said he appeared to have shown some genuine remorse and the social worker who prepared the social inquiry report concluded that he was a good candidate for rehabilitation.
The court found no aggravating features of the offender and reduced the sentence by four years, taking it to 38 years in prison.
The court then deducted the three years, nine months and four days Israel had spent on remand, which took the sentence down to 34 years, two months and 27 days.
Israel was convicted on Aug. 16, 2023 of murder in relation to the Jan. 30, 2020 shooting death of his wife, a nurse, on the compound of St. Martin’s Secondary School (SMSS), in Wilson Hill, Kingstown.
The judge noted that two positions, the case for the prosecution and that for the defence, were put to the jury. He said that by its verdict, the jury accepted the prosecution’s case and rejected that for the defence.
Justice Burnett summarised the fact of the matter, saying that about 3 p.m. on Jan. 30, 2020, Taylor-Israel visited SMSS, which one of his sons attended.
Israel went there also, something that he was accustomed to doing, as he usually picked up their sons there.
However, before the date of her murder, Taylor-Israel had given police a statement saying that her husband had threatened her.
When Israel arrived at the school, there was an exchange between him and his wife and she received three gunshot wounds, including to the neck and chest.
A pathologist concluded that she died of multiple gunshot injuries.
Israel left the scene and discarded the weapon in Montrose before driving to Campden Park then to Questelles, west of Kingstown, where police arrested him and later retrieved the firearm.
The judge said that through its verdict, the jury had rejected the defences of self-defence, accident and provocation.
He said a social inquiry report showed that Israel had made three reports to police against her husband in 2018 and 2020.
The couple was married for over 20 years before the murder and the relationship produced two sons.
Israel had also attended Humber College but abandoned his studies for medical reasons. He went on to work with the government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in various positions.
Justice Burnett said that even after his conviction, Israel maintained that the killing was an accident
He said that the interview with the social worker pointed to issues in their marriage.
The report spoke of the impact of the killing on Allison Sutherland, who described Israel as a very caring and kind woman who loved her children daily.
Sutherland said that Taylor-Israel’s death affected her psychologically, socially and financially.
She said Taylor-Israel cared for her sick husband and she is tormented daily as she wonders about Taylor-Israel’s children.
Sutherland housed the teenage boy after their mother’s murder and said that Matthew Israel was scared and angry and Mitchel Jr was timid and quiet.
Sometimes they stayed in their room all day, resulting in Sutherland being physically and emotionally drained.
Sutherland said that before the children lived with her, she used to travel but she now has to curtail this.
Financially, apart from a small sum from the National Insurance Services, Sutherland received no financial assistance from family members to help care for the boys.
Israel’s singing groups Cantemus made financial contributions and Sutherland also received ad hoc contributions.
Sutherland told the social worker it was her view that the teenage boys lost both parent on the day of the killing