Headline — 07 June 2016 — by Rowland A. Parks

BELIZE CITY, Mon. June 6, 2016–A Belize City man who has been on remand since 2010 when he was first accused of a double murder at a Belize City gas station will now take up a permanent residence at the Belize Central Prison after he was found guilty of the double murder and was sentenced to life in prison this morning in the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Justice, Adolph Lucas, who heard the two indictments against Ervin Reneau, 44, without a jury, handed down his guilty of murder ruling this morning. Reneau was found guilty on the first indictment for the unlawful death of David Longsworth, 39, and Edgar Ayala, a security guard who was posted at the Texaco gas station.

Justice Lucas told Reneau, “On the whole of the evidence, I am sure that you shot and killed David Longsworth on 30 November 2010, and that you had no legal justification or partial excuse to cause his death. Therefore I find you guilty on the first count of the indictment.”

“On the second count of the indictment, on the whole of the evidence, I find you guilty of the murder of Edgar Ayala. I find no legal or partial excuse for you to cause the death of Edgar Ayala. I find you guilty of murder on each count,” Lucas then added.

The court went into a few minutes break so that Reneau could confer with his attorney, Alifa Elrington-Hyde, who, after the guilty verdict was delivered by Justice Lucas, said that she understood the sentence to be a mandatory life in prison sentence and the judge’s hands were tied, so mitigation would not help, since the sentence was a fixed mandatory sentence.

When Reneau returned to the courtroom, his attorney told the court, “My Lord, after consulting with my client, we can move toward sentencing.”

Reneau carried a notebook throughout the trial and had it out this morning, ready to write notes on what Justice Lucas was going to say.

Justice Lucas, however, told Reneau, to “memorize what I am going to say to you.”

“I know your father and mother. Your mother is supposed to be a deacon. I know your father used to be the Chief Education Officer. Look at that!

“There is a Creole saying that the chips do not fall far from the block. But I don’t know what devil possessed you to do what you did. You need to redeem yourself,” Justice Lucas told Reneau.

The judge also said that this was” tragic.”

Justice Lucas then spoke about another double murder in which a man and his wife were killed over a property, but the accused murderer was not hanged due to the Privy Council’s decision.

Justice Lucas told Reneau that he is a beneficiary of that Privy Council’s decision.

“I sentence you to life in prison with effect from today, June 6, for the first count, and for the second count, I sentence you to life in prison with effect from today, June 6,” Lucas declared.

Reneau went on trial on February 16 for the murder of Longsworth and Ayala. Crown Counsel Shanice Lovell, who led the Crown’s evidence, called a total of 20 witnesses, which included three eyewitnesses. Lovell was assisted by Crown Counsels Janelle Tillett and Sheraigne Rodriguez.

One of the eyewitnesses, Williams Henry, had told police that he saw Reneau, who was dressed in a white T-shirt walk into the gas station while he, Henry, was pumping gas into Longworth’s car. Inside Longworth’s car were his wife and a seven-year-old child.

Williams said that after Reneau shot Ayala, he fired a shot at him, which missed. Longsworth was about to drive off in his car when Reneau opened fire on him, and the car, which had started to move came to a sudden stop.

Ursula Longsworth drove the car with the badly injured David Longsworth to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital while Reneau ran out of the gas station, taking Ayala’s .9mm pistol with him.

Reneau, when he was picked up by police, gave them a caution statement, the admissibility of which was the subject of a lengthy voir dire at the trial.

In the end, however, Justice Lucas admitted Reneau’s caution statement.

In his caution statement, Reneau told police that around 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 30, he had gone to the gas station to make an exchange of cocaine for a firearm with a guy named Longsworth.

Reneau said he went to the gas station with two men known to him only as Beedie and Kyle. “The transaction was supposed to be simple and Beedie and Kyle were supposed to watch my back,” Reneau said in his statement.

Reneau added that things did not seem right, and he felt that he was being set up when he saw that the security guard was going for his gun.

“I told him to freeze and he did not freeze,” Reneau continued in his statement. “The person in the car tried to drive off, so I felt I was set up. I took out a .9mm pistol that I had and opened fire on the security guard, and then in a split second, I fired some shots at the male person in the car.”

Reneau would later take Ayala’s gun and bury it near the river in Roaring Creek, where he was living with his girlfriend, Suzette Marsden, whom he had given the gun with which he had shot Longsworth and Ayala.

Marsden testified at the trial that she gave the gun to the then Commissioner of Police, Crispin Jefferies, and Reneau had led police to the spot where Ayala’s gun was buried.

Ballistic tests had confirmed that the gun that Marsden handed over to police was the gun that was used in the shooting of Longsworth and Ayala.

Reneau’s attorney, however, grilled Firearms Examiner Orlando Vera on the witness stand and even questioned his credentials as an expert witness.

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