BELIZE CITY, Mon. Nov. 13, 2017–Security at the Supreme Court was noticeably beefed up, with police officers decked out in paramilitary uniforms and armed with semi-automatic rifles as the sentencing phase for a convicted wife-killer, whose life was purportedly threatened with “a hit,” began in front of Justice Adolph Lucas on Friday morning and continued this afternoon.
Glenford “Bucket” Bermudez, 46, is a former Belize Defence Force soldier who was convicted of murder and was serving a life sentence, but had his sentence set aside and a new trial ordered by the Belize Court of Appeal in June 2013.
Bermudez’s new trial began two weeks ago before Justice Lucas, but instead of engaging the court with a full trial on the murder indictment, Bermudez pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Shortly after 2:00 p.m. this afternoon, Justice Lucas convened court and Bermudez’s attorney, Oscar Selgado, made a brief remark about cases to which Justice Lucas had referred him, which set out sentencing guidelines for offences involving death by domestic violence.
After reading some of the background evidence of the case, Justice Lucas imposed a 20-year sentence, minus the time Bermudez had already served in prison from 2007 when he was first arrested for the murder.
Justice Lucas began his summary of the evidence, saying that Glenford Bermudez, the convict, and the deceased, Raquel Requeña, were husband and wife.
“On 22 November, 2007, Raquel was driving a taxi from the Kolbe Foundation, in Hattieville, Belize District, with two passengers heading to Hattieville proper on the George Price Highway. The convict was driving his taxi from the opposite direction. The convict swerved his taxi toward Raquel’s taxi, causing both motor vehicles to stop.
“The convict approached Raquel with a shotgun. The passengers, a grandmother and her grandson, moved out of Raquel’s taxi. The convict fired one shot from the shotgun he had to the head of Raquel. This injury caused her death that same day. The convict was arrested that same day. He then gave police a statement. On 31 October, 2017, the convict pleaded guilty to manslaughter in this court,” stated Lucas.
Justice Lucas added, “In sentencing the convict, I take into consideration the aggravated factors. One, a shotgun was used to kill the deceased. Two, the victim was a working woman, a taxi driver, with children. Three, the effect of the death on the children as revealed by the impact statement of two of the children. I also take into account the mitigating factors.”
“The convict pleaded guilty, though not at the earliest convenience. He saved the court time and he avoided the re-visitation of agony on the children. He has expressed his remorse to members of the deceased’s family in court.” Justice Lucas said.
Justice Lucas went on to say that he would not take into consideration “the three infractions committed by the convict while he has been in prison.”
Justice Lucas then cited a number of authority cases involving murder and manslaughter and said he has listened to the mitigation plea on behalf of the convict by his attorney Selgado, “and I have listed the aggravated and mitigating factors.”
The judge then told Bermudez to stand up, and then he told him that he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The sentencing hearing was then adjourned so the Crown Counsel Shanice Lovell could work out the amount of time Bermudez has spent in prison since his arrest for the murder.
When the hearing resumed, Justice Lucas told Bermudez that from his 20-year prison sentence, he would deduct 9 years, 10 months and 18 days. Bermudez will therefore spend a little over 10 more years in prison.
In June 2014, the Belize Court of Appeal set aside Bermudez’s conviction and quashed his life-in-prison sentence and ordered a new trial. Bermudez was convicted of the murder of his wife in April 2011, in a trial by jury before Supreme Court Justice Herbert Lord.
In allowing the appeal, the Court of Appeal had ruled that the judge had misdirected the jury and so the court ordered a new trial.