Headline — 29 July 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks
5 years for .38 Special and ammo

This afternoon, two women and a man were arraigned before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer on charges of “kept unlicensed firearm and unlicensed ammunition.” The man, Martin Matura, 29, accepted responsibility for the gun and ammunition, while the women pleaded not guilty, resulting in an unprecedented dropping of the charges against them by the court’s prosecutor.

Matura was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for the gun and 5 years for the ammunition. The sentences are to run concurrently, so he will only spend a total of 5 years in prison. The women went home, freed of the two firearm-related charges.

Before the hearing began, Kimberly Bedran, 21, was sobbing in court. The mother of a 2-year-old baby was worried that she had no one to take care of her child if she was sent to prison “for something I know nothing about.”

Bedran’s mother, Margaret Vasquez, 49, who was more composed, instructed one of her relatives to “sell everything out of the house” to raise $1,500 to pay an attorney to secure a Supreme Court bail.

She got more agitated, however, when she learned that she would need the same amount for her daughter’s bail.

Matura, the man who had brought about the unfortunate circumstances for his girlfriend and mother-in-law, sat quietly, waiting for the Magistrate to begin the hearing.

When his turn came to speak in court, Matura had quite a lot to say. He told the court that he was not at home when the police went to their home to conduct the search that resulted in the discovery of a firearm that he had buried in their yard.

Matura said that he decided to turn himself in to police when he learned that his girlfriend and her mother were arrested for the firearm, which Matura claimed to have found while working with a street construction crew.

According to the police facts of the case, on July 26, a police search party went to 3677 Unity Street in the Port Loyola area of Belize City. Their mission was to search for illegal drugs and illegal firearms and ammunition.

When the police arrived at the residence around 8:25 a.m. to begin their search, only the two women were at home.

The police searched in the yard and with the assistance of their K9 unit, a dog which has been trained to detect firearms and ammunition, made an indication that something was near an outside bathroom area.

There was an area near the bathroom where the ground appeared to have been disturbed, the police report of the search said.

When police dug into the ground, about three to four inches below the surface, they discovered a black plastic bag.

Inside the bag, police discovered a chrome .38 Special revolver, loaded with three rounds. They removed the loaded gun and showed it to the two women, who were then detained.

Police said that the following day, July 27, Martin Matura went to the police station and identified himself as the owner of the gun and ammunition.

He was arrested and charged along with his girlfriend and mother-in-law with keeping unlicensed firearm and unlicensed ammunition.

In his mitigation plea, Matura told the Senior Magistrate that he is the father of a 2-year-old son who loves him, and “I ask the court to have a little leniency on me,” he said, as he wiped the tears that were welling in his eyes.

In his uncertainty about the sentence, he asked Frazer if he would spend 5 years in prison.

Frazer told him that he will spend 5 years because the sentences imposed on him are to run concurrently: “If I had sentenced you consecutively, you would have spent 10 years,” said the Magistrate.

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