The trio is accused of killing James Norales on November 23, 2012
After months of adjournments and not knowing if they would have to face a trial in the Supreme Court, Orel Leslie, 24, Brandon Baptist, 24, and Tyrone Meighan, 19, had their murder case committed for trial in the January session of the Supreme Court today.
The three were arraigned in November of last year for the murder of James Norales, 28, and have been remanded ever since.
The Preliminary Inquiry (PI) that the trio had been awaiting for so long almost didn’t happen, because their lawyers, Ellis Arnold and Arthur Saldivar, were pushing for the matter to be thrown out.
According to the lawyers, there was insufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case, and they had made several attempts to have the sitting magistrate at the time of the adjournments dismiss the case.
On September 17, 2013, the two lawyers were finally granted an audience before the Chief Magistrate, Ann Marie Smith, where they both made submissions that the evidence the prosecution had was pure hearsay and should not be allowed as evidence in trial.
The Chief Magistrate, after hearing arguments from both sides, decided to defer her decision for today. Leslie, Baptist and Meighan seemed confident when they arrived at court this morning, probably expecting that their almost one year stay on remand at the Belize Central Prison would come to an end.
But instead of throwing out the case, the Chief Magistrate dealt the men a crushing blow when she read her decision, stating that, based on the statements from at least two of the prosecution’s witnesses, they had enough evidence to establish a prima facie case and that the matter would be committed to the January 14, 2014 session of the Supreme Court.
The men were visibly disappointed when the decision was read to the court, and Meighan appeared to have been crying after holding his rag over his face for a prolonged period of time.
The prosecution then handed over the deposition of the case, which included statements from witnesses, forensic certificates, photographs of the crime scene, and the autopsy of the victim, along with forms and certificates.
Norales had been gunned down at 7:30 on the night of November 23, 2012 at the corner of Fabers Road and its junction with the George Price Highway. Norales, the father of three children, was shot multiple times in his head, neck and body, and was left to die in the middle of the road.