A Florida woman is up in arms against a Manhattan judge who recently granted US citizenship to her stepfather, a Jamaican immigrant who reportedly stabbed her mother to death 26 years ago, according to The New York Daily News.
Federal Judge Denny Chin reportedly ordered immigration officials to grant citizenship to 65-year-old Vernon Lawson. The judge said he had believed Lawson had shown an inclination to improve his situation by giving up drugs and alcohol and getting an education while in prison.
Court records show that Lawson, a former Marine, was high on PCP-laced marijuana – and also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder – when he stabbed Vena May Campbell to death in 1985. Lawson turned himself in directly after his wife’s murder, the media outlet reports.
Rushell Somers, who is Campbell’s daughter, told the newspaper she witnessed her mother’s murder.
“I ran into the bedroom begging. He threw me to the floor and ran back over to her and started stabbing her,” she said.
A jury ruled that Lawson had acted under “extreme emotional disturbance” and convicted him of manslaughter instead of murder, which would have prevented him from ever gaining US citizenship. Lawson was imprisoned for 13 years before he was released in 1998 and applied for naturalization in 2006.
The citizenship decision seems to contradict the principals proposed by the federal Secure Communities program. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement program identifies immigrants who have a criminal past and seeks to deport those who have been convicted of serious crimes.