Headline — 16 April 2014 — by Albert J. Ciego
Farmer kills thieves – charged with murder!

One thief died on the spot, and the other thief was found dead the following morning

Edison Johnson, 50, owner of the Johnson Farm located in the Carmelita area, Orange Walk District, appears to have become the latest victim of one of Belize’s strange gun laws – he is charged with murder for fatally shooting two men who he found burglarizing his property on Friday evening.

One of the men died almost immediately, while the other man was found dead at about 9:30 the following morning, Saturday, April 12, the day after he was shot. The two bodies are in the morgue in the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.

Johnson has been remanded to the Belize Central Prison until June 20, on charges of two counts of murder after he was arraigned in the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court yesterday, Monday.

Many citizens believe, however, that Johnson should never have been charged at all, since he was only protecting his property and his life from the thieves.

Hubert Elrington, the attorney for Johnson, said that the police should have sent the whole file up to DPP Cheryl Lynn Vidal for her directions on this incident because if you are defending your property or defending somebody else or defending your own life, then they (the police) ought not to charge you for murder or manslaughter and he thinks there are elements in this particular case that are extenuating, given the very remoteness of the farm and the fact that the incident occurred around 6:00 in the evening, and it was only Johnson and his son who were there.

Elrington strongly believes that the DPP should look into the matter and decide if charges should be levied against Johnson at all.

However, Superintendent Dennis Arnold, Commander of Orange Walk police, said that Johnson used excessive, deadly force, so he should be charged.

The incident occurred at about 6:30 Friday evening, and the two men who were killed are Saul Eliseo Garcia, 24, originally of San Jose, Orange Walk, but who was living in Rhaburn Ridge, in the Belize District; and the other is Luke Cox, 23, of Carmelita.

Johnson, of Guinea Grass, told police that on Friday evening, he and his son went to check his farm in Carmelita, but on their arrival, he saw two thieves burglarizing his farmhouse. He immediately blasted the men with his licensed shotgun.

One of the men fell down, but the other man ran. The fallen man was identified as Luke Cox. Police came and took Cox to the Northern Regional Hospital in Orange Walk Town, where he was declared dead on arrival.

Police said that at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning, they again went to the Johnson Farm to search for the second man, and that was when they found Saul Garcia dead about 400 yards from the area where they were shot.

Garcia was taken to the Northern Regional Hospital, where he also was declared dead on arrival. Both bodies were taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where they await a post-mortem.

Police said that on their arrival at the farm, Johnson handed over his licensed shotgun, along with two 12-gauge cartridges and an expended 12-gauge shell. Police announced that Edison Johnson has since been arrested and charged with two counts of murder.

The family of Saul Garcia told Amandala that for their part, they are facing financial difficulties and need $300 to pay expenses at the morgue before the body is handed over to them. The family said that they want to take the body back to his original hometown of San Jose to bury him tomorrow, but they cannot do that until they pay the $300 to the morgue.

A family member of Saul Garcia told Amandala that about 6:15 Friday evening, Saul and his friend, Cox, were taken to the Johnson Farm by a man in a pickup truck, and when the owner of the farm came and shot them, the driver sped away.

He said that when Saul was found, he had gunshot wounds in his head and abdomen.

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