General — 16 June 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Court of Appeal will decide on DPP’s appeal of Aracely Cahueque’s acquittal for abetment to commit murder

BELIZE CITY, Wed. June 13, 2018-  Yesterday, Tuesday, after a long delay, the Court of Appeal finally heard submissions from the applicant and the respondent in the case of Aracely Cahueque v The Queen. The panel of three judges who heard the submissions were the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Manuel Sosa, and Justices Lennox Campbell and Madam Justice Minnet Hafiz-Bertram. The court indicated that it would hand down its ruling at a later date.

Aracely Cahueque, a former Corozal beauty queen contestant, 22, at the time of the incident, was indicted on three counts of abetment to commit murder in relation to the murder of Raylene Dyer, 18, who was decapitated. Dyer’s body was never recovered and it is suspected that it was dumped into a river.

On October 18, 2010, Dyer left her Coney Drive home with her two-month-old daughter and was never seen again.

Dyer was reportedly murdered because Cahueque, who is believed to have been the mastermind behind her murder, wanted Dyer’s baby.

Police charged Darren Banner, 21;  Jason Anderson, 20;  and Brandon Budna, 24 — the men who, it is alleged, actually carried out the brutal execution of Dyer, for her murder. The three accused murderers, however, were acquitted in the Central District of the Supreme Court in Belmopan.

When Cahueque was acquitted in March 2014 of the three counts of abetment to commit murder, she became the fourth person to be freed of charges in relation to Dyer’s murder.

The three accused men walked from the murder charge because a caution statement that they had given to police was ruled inadmissible by the trial judge, Justice Dennis Hanomansingh.

A similar situation occurred at Cahueque’s trial; Justice Hanomansingh had also ruled her confession statement as inadmissible because police had taken the statement from her under duress.

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, however, filed one single ground of appeal, seeking to overturn Cahueque’s acquittal.

In the appeal documents, the DPP said: “The applicant seeks leave to argue a single ground of appeal, that is, that the learned trial judge improperly exercised his discretion in refusing to admit the statement of Brandon Budna, the main witness for the prosecution, who had been deemed adverse by the judge upon application by the applicant/intended respondent, and that the improper exercise of that discretion denied the applicant of the opportunity to put their case before the jury.”

The office of the DPP had filed the appeal against Cahueque some time ago, but there had been delays in the hearing because Cahueque is out of the country. The court eventually appointed attorney Anthony Sylvestre to represent her so that the hearing could have proceeded without her.

Cahueque is studying in Costa Rica and she has been served with the notice of appeal. If the court rules to quash her acquittal and order a new trial, she will have to return to the country to face the new trial.

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Deshawn Swasey

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