General — 11 August 2018 — by Roy Davis (freelance reporter)
Ernest Thurton, Jr., aka “Dangalang,” charged with double murder, testifies

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 9, 2018– On Tuesday, August 7, after the Crown closed its case, Justice Adolph Lucas informed Ernest Thurton, Jr., 25, on trial for double murder, of his three rights — the right to remain silent, the right to give a statement from the dock, and the right to swear on the Bible and testify from the witness stand.

He explained to Thurton that if he gave a statement from the dock, neither he (the judge) nor the Senior Crown Counsel, Shanice Lovel, would be able to ask him questions. Justice Lucas also explained to Thurton that if he gave sworn  testimony, he, Justice Lucas, would be able to ask him questions and Senior Crown Counsel Lovell would be able to cross-examine him.

In addition to that, Justice Lucas told Thurton that if he testified, his testimony would be given the same weight as the testimony of the witnesses for the Crown.

Thurton chose to testify. He said that at around 11 p.m. on October 25, 2012, when Frank James and Robert Young were shot and killed in a dockyard on North Front Street, he was asleep at his home on Frederick Street. He said that he was sleeping in the same room his three sisters were sleeping in, but he was on a bed by himself.

Thurton testified that he was doing construction work at a house in Kings Park and he went home after he finished working at 5 p.m. He said he went to sleep around 9 p.m. and he awoke the following day between 6:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Thurton said he does not know Eric Martinez, who was the person who took the firearm, which was used to shoot the deceased, to the dockyard where the shooting took place. He also said he only came to know Jasper Brannon, who was his co-defendant, when they were jointly charged with 2 counts of murder.

He called his sister, Alicia Rancharan, who, he had testified, was in the room where he slept, to testify and corroborate his alibi. She said that her brother was at home all night and she got up 3 times during the night to use the bathroom and each time she saw him there on his bed asleep.

However, according to the testimony of Kurt Pech, who resides at the dockyard, he saw Martinez coming on North Front Street, walking with the gun in his hand, along with Thurton and Brannon, on the night of the incident.

Pech said he did not see the actual shooting, but he heard Martinez begging Thurton not to shoot the deceased.

He also said that after he heard the gunshots, he looked out of his abode and saw Thurton, Martinez and Brannon heading down North Front Street towards its junction with Victoria Street.

Martinez, aka “Junior H,” took the witness stand, presumably to testify on behalf of the Crown, but he was deemed a hostile witness because he denied that he gave the police a statement in which he identified Thurton as the shooter.

Martinez’s statement, however, was admitted as evidence. Yesterday and today, addresses were made by Thurton’s attorney, Anthony Sylvestre, and Senior Crown Counsel Lovell. The trial should wrap up tomorrow with Justice Lucas either giving his verdict, or setting a date when it will be given.

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Deshawn Swasey

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