7 News Belize

7 News Belize HeadlinesMonday, April 20, 2015

Well Known Couple Found Slain in House, Murder-Suicide
Mike Estell and Colleen Sharp - they were a well-known couple in Ladyville, affluent, very social and committed parents to their 10 year old child. But last night they wer...
Man Murdered In Front Of Fried Chicken Shack
And while those two deaths will be filed under crimes of passion - senseless shootings dominated the weekend in Belize City. There were 3 shootings on Friday night which left 4...
Shooter Barges Into Home, Releases Barrage Of Gunfire
That murder on Friday night came after a trio of shootings which all happened around between 7:00 and 7:30. The most dangerous one occurred on Curl Thompson Boulevard when 49...
Spree Of City Shootings
But, before that shooting at around 7:00, there was another, this one on Banak Street. 18 year old Nissane Usher was standing on Magazine road along with 2 friends when someone fired several...
Will Rt. Hon. Said Step Down
He's had a long, accomplished, and, sometimes-controversial career in politics - and 7News has learned from credible sources that senior personalities are in discussions with 71 year old S...
Dylan Reneau Tells Audrey To Simmer Down
All of last week, we covered the dispute over Labour Senator Ray Davis. Trade Union congress Vice President Audrey Matura Shepherd said he must resign or be removed because he absta...
CCJ’s First Session In Belize
The Judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Belize's highest court of appeal, are in Belize for their first ever sitting in this country. They arrived on Saturday, and they will be hea...
CCJ Hears First Criminal Appeal From Belize
The Caribbean Court of Justice will hear its first-ever criminal appeal from Belize. In January, Eamon Courtenay, the former President of the Bar Association explained to the media that ...
Pedophile Pastor
A pastor of Boca de Poder Evangelical Church in Trial Farm, Orange Walk has been arrested and charged with child pornography. The 60 year old pastor Edgar Gerardo Lopez took nude pictures ...
Lake I Showdown Between Cordel and King
A mini political showdown played out in Lake Independence today. IT happened in the community space behind the Charles Bartlett Hyde building. That’s where a dispute about land ownership p...
What About Squat
And while Kings says he is not in war mode on this one - Hyde took him to task for how he handles the eviction of 12 squatters last week. As we've reported, they were squatting on six acres...
Man Fights With Wife, Stabs Himself
A man stabbed himself in a fight with his common law wife in Corozal. Yesterday, 38 year old Yeni Gomez along with her common law husband 23 year old Leandro Botes were socializing with fami...
City Survives Mega Blackout
Yesterday, residents in some areas of Belize City had an 11 hour mega-blackout! With the April heat coming on, it was surely an unwelcome Sunday sweat session, but BEL says it was important ...
Mahogany Trees For Free
The Audubon Society has been giving away free Mahogany trees since Wednesday. The Society organizes this initiative every year for Earth Day and publicity coordinator Dirk Francisco says peo...
Deon Is In Camp
On Friday's newscast, we showed you how Belize's premier striker, Deon McCaulay, arrived in Belize after a group of fans organized a grassroots effort to pay for his transportation and sti...
Dwight’s Declaration
In the past few weeks we've shown you how two UDP Representatives have stepped aside to make way for new challengers to replace them. No one will say this, but the real reason they did th...
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7 News Belize - News:
Important Note: This Internet version of 7 News is a verbatum transcript of our evening television news script. Many interviews on our newscast are conducted in Creole. In the interest of clarity for our foreign readers, we attempt to paraphrase the Creole quotes in English

Well Known Couple Found Slain in House, Murder-Suicide

Mike Estell and Colleen Sharp - they were a well-known couple in Ladyville, affluent, very social and committed parents to their 10 year old child. But last night they were carried out of their homes dead - both of them shot to the head in what looks like a domestic dispute turned murder, turned suicide. For the wider Ladyville community, it is an un-imaginable turn of events: how could this high - class couple end up dead in their home? Well it turns out that it was a murder suicide: police believe Mike Estell shot Coleen Sharp in a rage and then killed himself. 7News was on the scene last night:

Jules Vasquez reporting
At 8:15 on Sunday night - friends and family of Mike Estell and Colleen Sharp broke down the door of his house on the old Airport Road next to the Belikin Factory.

Inside they found 54 year old Mike Estell and his common law wife, 30 year old Coleen Sharp both dead in the bathroom on the second floor - which is here - he was face down, she was on her back with a gun lying between them. They had both been shot to the head:

Supt. Hilberto Romero, OC - CIB E/D
"We found two bodies. The fire arm was between the two bodies and they were each in a pool of blood. Michael Estell, 54 years old, with a single gunshot wound to the right side of his temple and Michelle Sharp, 30 years old, received a gunshot wound to the right side of her face, near her eyebrow."

They were both in their underwear - and there were signs of a struggle: a ball of her hair was on the bathroom floor and beside it his chain.

There were no signs of forced entry and no sign of burglary - so police believe it is a murder suicide - but they don't know yet who killed who, and then killed themselves.

Supt. Hilberto Romero, OC - CIB E/D
"We are presently conducting our investigation. The post mortems will be done today and the doctor will submit his reports, along with the firearm examiner and then we will be in a better position to establish what actually transpired there."

The weapon used was a .380 pistol licensed to Estell - and two expended shells were found in the bathroom. Police spent three hours processing the scene while family waited outside - wanting answers - when they were none - just the fact that their loved ones were dead inside the house.

In an unusual twist Dr. Mario Estradabran - who lives in Ladyville, spent hours inside doing his forensic analysis at the crime scene.

At about 11:30 - police told the family they would be moving the bodies. But Coleen's mother could not be consoled - begging to go inside to see her daughter's body:

After another five minutes, they finally put her into a vehicle away from the frontline while other family members stood at the fence to see police bring the bodies out. It wasn't pretty, seeing the couple, bundled up in sheets being carted down the stairs of the home where they had lived for a dozen years. First Mike Estell then Coleen Sharp - then driven out headed for the morgue - Indeed, an unimaginable end for a couple that was known to their neighbors the loving parents of a 10 year old daughter - a neighbor spoke to us off camera:

Voice of Neighbor
"Really shocking. The couple never bring any sense of uneasiness between them - never. It's very shocking."

More so because no one heard anything: no fight, no struggle, no shooting no gunshot. According to the bar manager who ran Mark's club on the ground floor - she was the last person to see them and Saturday was a normal night at the property:

Voice of Bar Manager
"About 10pm Mike pulled up and opened the gate, drove in and left the gate open and about 15 minutes later Coleen showed up as usual."

Reporter
"You closed the bar about what time last night?"

Voice of Bar Manager
"About 11pm."

Reporter
"Did you hear any kind of noise/ruckus to indicate that there was problems upstairs?"

Voice of Bar Manager
"Nothing."

But there is one thing that could explain this: what friends say was a sometimes-stormy relationship:

Reporter
"You never knew of any kind of history, any kind of domestic violence or domestic abuse?"

Voice of Bar Manager
"No. Because, like I said there were private people. They come in and they close the gate and they go upstairs and that's it. Because when you see Mike and Coleen together - its normal couple. Seriously you don't see anything wrong."

Voice of Neighbor
"It's hard for me to accept and believe, but I don't know the couple as that. That's it. Punto."

And the most important part of that picture was their ten year old daughter:

Voice of Neighbor
"As a parent myself, I am sorry for that little girl. I know them so well. She loves both her parents. I could imagine the devastation she will be in when she hear this news."

A shock and grief shared by a large extended family - echoed by incredulity in the wider community.

A post mortem conducted this evening confirmed that they both died of traumatic shock due to gunshot wounds to the head. All physical evidence indicates that Mike Estell was the one who shot Colleen Sharp - and then turned the gun on himself. This followed what appears to have been a very violent fight - where she fought back. This is believed to have happened sometime after 1:00 in the morning.


Man Murdered In Front Of Fried Chicken Shack

And while those two deaths will be filed under crimes of passion - senseless shootings dominated the weekend in Belize City. There were 3 shootings on Friday night which left 4 persons injured, and of the four, 35 year-old Vern Magdaleno was the only victim who was fatally injured.

It happened on the corner of Faber's Road and Central American Boulevard, where Magdaleno went to buy fried chicken. That's when the gunman shot him execution style while he was sitting in the vehicle. Daniel Ortiz has been following that story, and here's his report:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
Just after 8 o'clock on Friday night, 35 year-old Vern Magdaleno, aka "Bird", lay slumped in the middle of the front seats of his Mazda car. He had been shot in the left side of the head by a gunman at close range.

His family and friends could only observe the scene, which often became too overwhelming, their tears of grief freely flowing on the crowded Central American Boulevard.

It is a scene which his brother, Albert Magdaleno, told us today that he keeps reliving, especially the moments of Friday night when he had to help police put his brother's body inside the morgue.

Alberto Magdaleno - Brother of Deceased
"I am still in a state of shock and the besides that, I have all these images played in my head because I had to assist the police in putting him in the morgue. When I saw the condition of how he look and then also when I got on the scene the night, to see my niece and nephew horrified that their father had just been killed and then his oldest daughter who should be graduating from ACC come June - she was very emotional throwing herself on the ground and crying and hollering dad. So all of these memories now are playing in my head and making it difficult for me to just move on and to sleep."

So, how did it happen?

Supt. Hilberto Romero - OC, CIB Eastern Division
"The information we have is that he went there with his common-law-wife to purchase fried chicken and was seated in his car when a lone gunman rode up, approached him in the car and fired one single shot at him which cause the fatal injury. Several persons were at that establishment purchasing chicken at the time and we have conducted several interviews and recorded several statements. So far we have not been able to lay any charges on anyone regarding this shooting."

Alberto Magdaleno - Brother of Deceased
"What I am told is that my sister said that she dropped him off at her house and then she went back to the family home where he got some money and then he and his common-law-wife were in the vehicle. As a matter of fact she was in the vehicle up until the time of the shooting. They went to the "Chiney" Tito to buy fried chicken and he got out of the vehicle, went to purchase the chicken and sitting in the vehicle about to move off, that's when the killer creep up to the edge of the car, pushed the gun through the window and shot him direct in the ear."

Bird Magdaleno was known to be a family man. His brother know him to work hard to provide for his 3 children. His violent end is uncharacteristic, and puzzling to them.

Alberto Magdaleno - Brother of Deceased
"I am not sure what to say because I reside in Ladyville and he lives here in Belize City and I don't know if it's a matter of association with friends or what, but you can't pick a person's friends and especially if you grew up in a certain neighborhood, sometimes automatically you are branded because of the environment you grew up in - that's where you live. So, I really came mention about that."

Supt. Hilberto Romero - OC, CIB Eastern Division
"Again, we have not established clear motives regarding this murder. He had only been charged before for burglary. That is all he has been charged for."

Daniel Ortiz
"Do you believe after this entire situation has unfolded and police do what they are required to do, that you will get some sort of closure from the course that this killer will be brought to justice?"

Alberto Magdaleno - Brother of Deceased
"I do hope so, because one interesting thing was that the GSU van that has a camera on the outside that observed the surroundings was parked a little distance up the street. So, I believe if that was there and it was functioning, then they should have captured something to the event that had transpired that night."

Magdaleno is the father of 3 children, a 16 year-old daughter who is to graduate from high school in June, a 10 year-old son, another 6 year-old daughter.


Shooter Barges Into Home, Releases Barrage Of Gunfire

That murder on Friday night came after a trio of shootings which all happened around between 7:00 and 7:30.

The most dangerous one occurred on Curl Thompson Boulevard when 49 year old Wendy Lambey was watching television with her family when a gunman stormed in and started to fire wildly - as many as 10 shots. Lambey was shot 6 times her in the legs. Her son's friend who was there at the time - 17 year old Aaron Munnings - was also shot in the jaw and hand - but survived. We spoke to Lambey's son who witnessed everything as well as Wendy herself after she was released from the hospital this evening. She told us that those shots were not meant for her but for her son's friend Aaron.

Voice of Son of Victim
"Basically it happened around 7 o' clock on a Friday night when everyone was watching TV. I, my little brother and a friend of mine were outside socializing. I came inside and walked up and down but they were still socializing outside. So I was coming out of the kitchen and I saw my younger brother run into the room. When I saw him run in the room I heard the first three shots outside. When I heard those shots I ran back and into the kitchen. My sister whom was sitting in this same chair grabbed her two kids, one was her niece and was her daughter who was sleeping in this chair. My little sister was behind the door, my mom was right here and he came in and stood right there and the young man was right down there. I was actually just in the corner watching everything."

Courtney Weatherburne
"All the kids that you said, the little niece, everybody..."

Voice of Son of Victim
"I didn't even know the young man had my niece under him actually. Because my sister was right behind the gun man while he was firing shots. So my mom was right here and got shot 6 times, hopping still crying for him to stop."

Wendy Lambey, Mother
"Coming back in, I came into this corner, sat down, when I heard a first gunshot went off. Then I took cover while my daughter was there and my granddaughter was sleeping in the chair. When I heard my son said 'mom a gunman' where after I heard shots after shots. I took cover for myself in the corner and I covered up myself. Then I heard the good Lord tell me to brake right there, because I was to go run that side into the room. When I came off of the chair handle I just saw blood pouring. I cried out and my husband asked me what's wrong then after I told him I got shot."

Lambey's 5 year old grandchild was sitting near the front door when the shots rang out. Luckily none of the kids were hurt. Police have arrested and charged 19 year old Justin Hyde with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of use of deadly means of harm and two counts of dangerous harm with a deadly weapon. Hyde is no stranger to the police. He has had several convictions in the past including possession of control drugs, wounding along with two misdemeanor offenses. Hyde is the brother of Troy Hyde who is on remand for the murder of George Street figure Kareem "Robbery" Lopez.


Spree Of City Shootings

But, before that shooting at around 7:00, there was another, this one on Banak Street. 18 year old Nissane Usher was standing on Magazine road along with 2 friends when someone fired several shots at them, hitting him in the left thigh. Police are still looking into the matter.

While on Saturday night a man and a 14 year old girl were shot. 34 year old Levar Taylor and 14 year old Tara Centino, both of Police Street were shot at by two men on a motorcycle around 10:15. Taylor was shot to his left shoulder and Centino was shot to her leg. Both were admitted to the KHMH in a stable condition.

And yesterday there was another shooting incident around 5:41 in the morning on Cemetery Road. 41-year-old Kent Cole was shot by someone who rode by in a green Mazda S.U.V, wounding him in the right upper arm. Police are looking into the incident.


Will Rt. Hon. Said Step Down

He's had a long, accomplished, and, sometimes-controversial career in politics - and 7News has learned from credible sources that senior personalities are in discussions with 71 year old Said Musa to retire from electoral politics. Today Musa told us that it is something that has been discussed, but, added, quote, "I have not made up my mind." He added that he has quote, "not addressed my mind to it as urgently as perhaps others have." We asked him if such a move might be imminent...his response, "I would say it is not."

But, clearly it is a very live issue and we know that there is a move at very senior levels of the party to prevail on Musa to step aside because, reputationally, he is considered a liability to the party. And the urgency Mr. Musa alluded to may indeed be present in the minds of some in the PUP who sense that general elections will be sooner rather than later.

But, best sources say, talks are still in progress - and some of this - we are told - could be stuck on who would replace him in Fort George, which is considered one of the safest PUP seats in the country. Musa's first winning general election was in 1979 - and he has served 7 terms in the House of Representatives - wining the last 6 times in succession.


Dylan Reneau Tells Audrey To Simmer Down

All of last week, we covered the dispute over Labour Senator Ray Davis. Trade Union congress Vice President Audrey Matura Shepherd said he must resign or be removed because he abstained on the Petrocaribe vote - but his supporters say he never got a directive from the union on how to vote, so he had no choice but to abstain.

Former NTUCB President Dylan Reneau elaborated on this at great length in a lengthy email sent last Friday - in which he also took time to lecture Matura-Shepherd for her public criticisms of Senator Davis.

7News has obtained a copy of the three thousand word email - complete with nine attachments - which is addressed to Matura-Shepherd. He says the letter is triggered by her public attack on the integrity of a trade union stalwart. Right off the top, he warns, quote, "I believe you are out of line calling for Senator Davis to resign or for NTUCB to remove him."

Reneau then goes into what appears to be an attempt to educate Matura-Shepherd on the history of the Petro Caribe initiative and points to the fact that the PUP was the first to sign unto it, against Finance and Audit Act regulations and without taking it to the House. The UDP then took three years to bring its agreement to the House. Reneau concludes, quote, "both were in violation of the Finance and Audit Reform Act 2005."

He adds that, quote, "Both sides of the political divide got funds under PetroCaribe - the PUP $41 million US...(and the UDP) $114.3 million US.

After a few thousand words where he delves into great detail about the history of Petrocaribe, Reneau goes to what he calls, "the real issue." He points to the passionate email sent out by Trade Union Secretary Kathleeen Flowers on Thursday March 26th - the day the PETROCARIBE Loan motion went to the house. In it she implores the union to take a stand against the bill. But, as we have reported, nothing happened. Reneau laments, quote, "lo' and behold "no meeting was held to discuss the issue and no one responded to Sis Flowers plea." And, he concludes, quote, "Senator Davis…decided to abstain from voting because he was not given any clear directive from the NTUCB. This is a legitimate stand because he did not "support" the bill." End quote.

From there, Reneau goes unto urge Matura Shepherd to quote, "stop this public campaign against Senator Ray Davis because the NTUCB did not provide Senator Davis any direction. This behavior is distasteful and tethers on violating the constitution of the NTUCB as the spokesperson for the NTUCB is the "PRESIDENT" and Vice presidents only make public statements in the absence of the president. Stop attacking your messenger but attack the message or the issue." End quote.

But Reneau goes even further, he said, quote, "Mrs. Audrey Matura Sheppard I demand an apology for the innuendos you have publicly made against Senator Davis …Your behavior is out of order." End quote.

Well, according to our sources Reneau's stern letter was discussed at a meeting held by the general council of the Trade Union Congress on Saturday. Our information says that it was decided that going forward only the President of the Trade Union Congress Marvin Mora can act as spokesperson unless he assigns someone else and that assignment has to be approved by the general council. More than that, the General Council has to approve what that spokesperson will say.

But that wasn't discussed in a press release coming out of that Saturday meeting. The NTUCB sent out a press release making its position on Petrocaribe clear. IT says, quote, "this new law flies in the face of ALL we stand for regarding the fiscal management of Belize?s resources."

The NTUCB says it continues to canvass its membership, so that, quote, "when called upon to take a stand, our membership will be able to make an informed decision." IT adds, mysteriously, quote, "the dissection and unfolding of Petro Caribe Law is only just beginning!!!"


CCJ’s First Session In Belize

The Judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Belize's highest court of appeal, are in Belize for their first ever sitting in this country. They arrived on Saturday, and they will be hearing cases until Thursday.

One of the cases they hope to deal with in person is the Maya Communal Land Rights Case. As we've reported, former Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh ruled in 2007 and 2010 that the Mayans in 33 villages of Southern Belize have customary land rights over their ancestral lands. That's pretty much the same thing that the Court of Appeal affirmed in July of 2013, but they did not grant the relief that the Mayans were asking for. The Court ruled that the Government did not have to protect those rights by legislating their ownership with the Lands Department.

So, both sides decided to appeal since the Appeal Court's decision was not fully in either party's favor. That brings us to this week where the Court of Appeal has set aside 2 full days to hear what they expected to be a rigorous and intensive appeal. That's until this morning's case management conference, which was held in closed doors. That's when the Government attorneys Denys and Naima Barrow indicated to the court that they would settle most of the point in dispute with the Mayan litigants. We waited outside of court for an opportunity to speak with both sides about this unexpected settlement, and here's what they told us:

Denys Barrow, SC, Attorney for GOB
"There is settlement on almost all of the issues which were raised in this appeal and the only matter which remains outstanding is the issue of damages or compensation which the Mayas are claiming. I think a lot of the history of this litigation - a lot of the baggage stems from a failure to understand what the Supreme Court judgement has originally given, includes and encompasses. There is under one hand the view in the wider community that the Maya have been given the whole of the Toledo district. There is the view on the other hand that what has been given were simply recognition of the rights which the Mayas have as human beings and as persons who have a historic claim to the land or occupation of the land. so I think the fact of their physical occupation over the period that they have been there, would entitle them in the same way how in a different part of the country if someone has been living there, in government land for 30 years they have what we called 'squatters rights'."

Antoinette Moore, Attorney for Mayans
"We are coming to the same conclusion but through fundamentally different paths. So we are coming to the conclusion that yes, Maya people have rights to the land. Yes indeed those lands must be demarcated and ultimately titled, so that Maya people can have complete rights to those lands. Now the government wants to say it is not based on their indigeneity and we are saying that's not so. Now we put that dispute to the side basically because we are coming to same results, that the Maya people have lands. But I must say that this court is now in the order that's been entered by this court, is now affirming what the court of appeal said which affirmed what the Supreme Court said. And that is that the Maya people have rights to the land based on their indigeneity. So I do not accept whatsoever that the basis of this 'the squatters rights'."

So, what are the leaders of the Mayan Communities saying about this concession by the Government? Well, they told us that it is a welcomed outcome:

Christina Coc, Spokesperson, Maya Leaders Alliance
"We're ecstatic that the government has finally decided to get on the right side of history. All along for the last 30 years, we've been saying the same thing. Our position as a Maya people has never changed. We've continued to say that those lands that we currently use and occupy, that we've occupied for generations has been our home lands. And finally the government admits that we have been right all along. We have been right all along, they have not only admitted that, they've submitted and signed on to a commitment that says they're going to protect that. They have affirmed our rights to those lands and resources and they have agreed to protect that and so of course we are ecstatic. We've come a long way, our struggle has been quite the struggle."

Alfonso Cal, President, Toledo Alcalde Association
"Our brothers and sisters from Belize and throughout the breadth Belize can see our struggle. It takes a long time, but we are still fighting together, united together, and the others that didn't sign they were seeing that it is good. And now they feel that they didn't sign but, they feel that were protected by the land rights."

So, the main Belizean case which the CCJ was scheduled to hear has been reduced from 2 days to about 1 hour or so on Wednesday. As you heard, the final point being disputed by both sides is about damages that the Mayans are claiming for. We asked both sides for their position on this issue, and here's how they explained it:

Antoinette Moore, Attorney for Mayans
"The claim for damage is really our two-fold; one is, what we call Pecuniary or actual damages that were suffered by one particular village and this was in 2008 which really prompted the second case being brought on. When an outside individual claim to have lease to lands in a Maya village came in and bulldozed the crops of several villagers. And so those persons in that village and ultimately that village suffered damages. And we have claimed for that as well as a general damages for all of the villages really having to fight all these years for rights that they've always had. And that the government simply failed to either recognize or recognize and then failed to protect."

Denys Barrow, SC - Attorney for GOB
"Government is saying that government is not liable to pay any damages and that any damages which should be paid for a particular injury done should have been claimed against the person who did the damage and not government."

We'll be there on Wednesday for the outcome of that abridged appeal, and we'll update you accordingly.


CCJ Hears First Criminal Appeal From Belize

The Caribbean Court of Justice will hear its first-ever criminal appeal from Belize. In January, Eamon Courtenay, the former President of the Bar Association explained to the media that the reason no criminal appeals have made it to the CCJ is because the convicted appellants cannot afford it.

And now Courtenay is representing the first man to take his appeal to that court. That applicant is convicted murderer Gregory August who recently appealed to the Court of Appeal, but failed to convince the judges that his appeal should be allowed. The CCJ judges held a special sitting this morning to hear his application for leave to appeal and be heard as a poor person.

The CCJ panel looked favorably on his application, and granted him permission to appeal his case at a later date before him. They have decided, however, that he must go back to the Court of Appeal to argue new grounds that his attorney is bringing on his behalf. We spoke with his attorney outside of court about the favorable outcome, and the implications of those new grounds. Here's how he explained it:

Eamon Courtenay, SC - Attorney for Gregory August
"One, what they did was grant special leave for him to challenge his conviction. Two, send the matter back to the court of appeal to deal with the question of sentence and question of a good character direction. And that the matter must be heard as quickly as possible. Once it has been heard and a decision is handed down, it will then go back to the CCJ for us to challenge the whole substantive conviction and sentence."

Reporter
"So can you explain the constitutional matter there when you say life to parole, the constitutional issue...?"

Eamon Courtenay, SC - Attorney for Gregory August
"The constitution as you know, section 7 of the constitution says no person should be subject to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Now here is a young man in his 20's, who has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The reason for a sentence is, one, deterrence, and two, to ensure that the person pays his debt to society but also to allow that person to reform himself or herself. Now if you do not have a chance of coming out of prison even if you change your life, even if you have served 20 years, even if you are a good and modelled prisoner. The question is, what purpose is your continued imprisonment serving and we say that it is unconstitutional. It is cruel and inhuman to send somebody to prison who has changed his on her life incompletely reformed. Completely rehabilitated himself or herself but can't get out. The Belize advisory council rules section 52 of the constitution and the parole rules, do not provide any avenue for Mr. August to change his life, to reform himself and to come out of prison. So we are saying that, that is unconstitutional and that is what we will be arguing for the court of appeal."

Reporter
"What is the significance of this case as the first appeal of a criminal nature to the Caribbean Court of justice?"

Eamon Courtenay, SC - Attorney for Gregory August
"Well as you know the director of public prosecutions did not oppose to grant of special leave. One of the reasons for that is as I understand it, is that in her opinion the law as it is on circumstantial evidence needs to be clarified. And therefore she's hoping that because this case was there with solely circumstantial evidence, that we will get some clarity from the CCJ on circumstantial evidence. Then of course there's this new constitutional point which is the section 7 point that I just discussed. So at least on these two areas the CCJ will give guidance and clarification to all of our courts as to the law on circumstantial evidence and minimum mandatory life in prison without parole."

On November 21, 2012, August was convicted by a jury of murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison.


Pedophile Pastor

A pastor of Boca de Poder Evangelical Church in Trial Farm, Orange Walk has been arrested and charged with child pornography. The 60 year old pastor Edgar Gerardo Lopez took nude pictures of two girls, ages 3 and 10 standing along with their mother. Apparently, the mother was having relations with him and took her daughters to meet him. That is when the pastor took the naked pictures of the girls. Lopez was charged with 4 counts of producing child pornography, 2 counts for the 3 year old minor and two counts for the ten year old. Police say the mother might also be charged. He was remanded to prison and will re-appear in court on June 29th. A medical examination established that none of the children had been molested.

Lake I Showdown Between Cordel and King

A mini political showdown played out in Lake Independence today. IT happened in the community space behind the Charles Bartlett Hyde building. That’s where a dispute about land ownership played out between competing political interests: PUP Sheriff Cordel Hyde and his UDP counterpart Mark King. The issue is a piece of land, block 45 of parcel 61. Hyde says he secured it for the PUP Lake Independence Action Committee in 2007, while King has title for the very same piece of land in the name of the GOB for UDP Lake Independence Committee. Two titles for the same piece of land – sounds shady, right? Well, Cordel Hyde says he got title first, he just can’t find it. We visited the area today and found his camp holding their ground:..

What About Squat

And while Kings says he is not in war mode on this one - Hyde took him to task for how he handles the eviction of 12 squatters last week. As we've reported, they were squatting on six acres of private land in the Gungulung area. The private landowner was about to evict them - and King intervened to give them leases for land in Cotton Tree. Hyde says he could have done better:


Man Fights With Wife, Stabs Himself

A man stabbed himself in a fight with his common law wife in Corozal. Yesterday, 38 year old Yeni Gomez along with her common law husband 23 year old Leandro Botes were socializing with family at their home when a misunderstanding erupted. Apparently, Botes broke a rum bottle and attempted to stab his common law wife Gomez but in the struggle he ended up stabbing himself in the left shoulder. He was taken to the KHMH in a critical condition. As for Gomez, she complained of pain to her right hand. Her face was also swollen.

City Survives Mega Blackout

Yesterday, residents in some areas of Belize City had an 11 hour mega-blackout! With the April heat coming on, it was surely an unwelcome Sunday sweat session, but BEL says it was important to improve the mechanism for emergency backup power.

The main purpose of the blackout was to decentralize power from the Magazine Road plant during times of emergency. 2 newly built substations, one at the corner of Partridge and Banak Streets, and the other on the Phillip Goldson Highway, called the "Pallotti Substation", will take over in the event that there is power failure to the Magazine Facility. BEL's electricity grid will be able to re-route power to these new facilities and provide electricity for the City while Magazine substation is down.

Engineers also re-positioned major transmission lines.


Mahogany Trees For Free

The Audubon Society has been giving away free Mahogany trees since Wednesday. The Society organizes this initiative every year for Earth Day and publicity coordinator Dirk Francisco says people have been coming in to get their trees. We spoke with Francisco along with a mahogany tree enthusiast and they told us that this initiative promotes both the beauty of the Mahogany tree along with its cultural and environmental significance.

The Society had 200 trees to give away and now only has 75 left. So if you're interested, you can stop by the Belize Audubon Society and get your tree. Apart of this year's Earth Day celebration, the Audubon Society along with the Mayor of Belmopan will plant a Mahogany Tree at Guanacaste Park on Wednesday - when Earth Day is officially commemorated.


Deon Is In Camp

On Friday's newscast, we showed you how Belize's premier striker, Deon McCaulay, arrived in Belize after a group of fans organized a grassroots effort to pay for his transportation and stipend while he trains for the next 10 weeks.

We'll, we've confirmed that McCaulay reported to his first practice today at the FFB Headquarters with the other National Team Members. The FFB also released a statement saying quote, "The Football Federation of Belize and The Belize National Team Committee take this opportunity to welcome home Deon McCaulay.

Deon has accepted the terms of the FFB/National Team Committee and has agree to join the Team for workout, commencing Monday, 20th April, 2015. The terms and conditions as it relates to Stipend and traveling per diem are inline with the usual FFB policies and applies to all National Team Players." End Quote.


Dwight’s Declaration

In the past few weeks we've shown you how two UDP Representatives have stepped aside to make way for new challengers to replace them. No one will say this, but the real reason they did that is because they were considered beatable, and the UDP hoped to replace them with better candidates who have a better chance at winning. Only time will tell if the ruling party made the right moves with Tracy Taegar and Darrell Bradley - but they have no moves to make in Belize Rural north. That's where Edmond Castro will be challenged by Dwight Tillett. Castro is considered to have a lock on the division so we asked Tillett today why he wants to challenge him:..

Dwight Tillet
"I've been working in this division since 2003 for the current area representative. I worked as his campaign manager for the first 4 years leading up to the '08 election and I've also worked for him in 2012. He's a total disappointment to me and to many of us who were in his committee and it is these people that have urged me to come out. And I'm glad they have done that because we can't stay on the side-lines and keep on complaining about bad government. All the people who have all these bright ideas on talk shows, they should get out there and start to do something you know. That's the way were going to change our country and make it a better place. I expect to win, there is no doubt in my mind that the momentum we have - I have been at this since July 2013. I left my government job to be out there doing what I'm doing now. The people are ready for change and unless a miracle happens, I will not win but all indications are that we have this in the bag."

Daniel Ortiz
"Now sir, while you may be confident, some would say as overconfidence, Mr. Castro has gone up against two contestants and he's blowing them out. Not just won - blown them out."

Dwight Tillet
"Let me remind you that I put Castro there in 2008, I worked for him on the first convention, we won that handily and I withdrew myself from politics for the second convention. I didn't even go and vote but I was reappointed to CEO for him by the Prime Minister in 2012. I left that job and I am just ready for this. I'm not a novice, I'm not a new comer to Belize rural north."

Daniel Ortiz
"Do you think there will be any misgivings or ill feelings towards the fact that you're now challenging him to try to now unseat him?"

Dwight Tillet
"Well I don't take politics personally. I don't have any gripe with anybody on earth. I love everybody, I work for those who I can work for and if he has a peeve that's his problem, I don't have any."

Castro has dominated his last two contested conventions in Rural North,but Tillett is his former campaign manager. He officially launched his candidacy today in Sand Hill.






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