Crime — 23 July 2013 — by Rochelle Gillett
Constable Lazaro Catch, 30, acquitted of abetment to manslaughter

Catch was arrested with Cpl. Jorge Lemus after O’Neil “Jew” Jones was shot to death on February 13, 2010

Today, PC Lazaro Catch, 30, was able to walk out of court a free man after his lawyer, who incidentally is Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley, made a no-case submission, which Justice John “Troadio” Gonzalez upheld.

In the early morning hours of February 13, 2010, O’Neil Anthony Jones, aka “Jew”, 41, was fatally shot in front of Ruba Bar located in Lords Bank, Ladyville.

Jones was allegedly intervening in an argument when one of the persons involved in the argument started arguing with him, and that was when he reportedly left the area.

But by that time, police had already arrived in the area and when Jones was told to stop, he refused and allegedly pointed something that resembled a gun at the police.

It was later revealed that the object that Jones allegedly pointed at the police was in fact a bicycle
”goose neck” wrapped in a black sock with black electrical tape.

A shot was fired at Jones and it proved to be fatal, as he fell to the ground and died on the street around the corner from the bar.

In May of 2010, three months after the shooting, Cpl. Jorge Lemus and PC Catch, the two police officers who responded to the scene, were arrested and charged with manslaughter and abetment to manslaughter respectively.

On April 23 this year, Lemus was acquitted of his charge after his attorney Simeon Simpson made a a no-case submission, which was upheld by Justice Adolph Lucas.

On Thursday, July 18, Catch’s trial began and the Crown, which was represented by Leeroy Banner, called a total of five witnesses to testify, including their main witness, Lavern Stephens.

Stephens told the court that she saw “Jew” riding away from the scene and the “fat officer” running behind him after they had already told Jew to stop. She testified that Jew continued riding away and turned the corner into another street, when she heard two gunshots.

But apart from that information, Stephens proved to be just another person who was allegedly in the area when the shooting occurred, because she failed to identify Catch as the person whom she saw that night.

Nicholas Newman, the person who identified Jones’ body, was another witness called by the Crown to testify. In court, Newman said that he went to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital’s morgue to identify the body of O’Neil Anthony Jones.

Both Stephens and Newman proved to be very pertinent witnesses for the defense, as this morning, after the Crown closed its case, the no-case submission made by Bradley was based on the testimonies of those two witnesses.

Bradley based his first argument on the fact that the Crown had to prove that it was the accused person who committed the crime and at the end of their case, Stephens, the main witness, had failed to identify Catch as one of the officers about whom she had made reference.

His second argument was based on the fact that Stephens kept referring to the deceased as “Jew,” and that the last time she had seen him, he was riding around the corner from the bar alive.

Newman, however, went to the morgue and identified the body of a person known to him as O’Neil Jones, and there was no reference to “Jew” made by Newman. There was no evidence to support the fact that “Jew” and O’Neil Jones were one and the same person.

In his response, Banner conceded that there was never any identification of Catch as the officer, or any of the officers for that matter, who had responded to the scene that night.

So, at 10:52 this morning, the jury forelady was instructed to find Catch not guilty, and after the formality of that was done, Catch walked out of court a free man.

Both Lemus and Catch had been on half pay interdiction since their arrests in May of 2010. After he was acquitted, Lemus returned to the force, but it is unsure what will be Catch’s next move.

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