Hon. Marcial Mes, 57, area representative for Toledo West who had been suspended by Prime Minister Said Musa from his Ministerial duties as Minister of State in the Ministry of National Development following court charges for a traffic accident, was yesterday freed of the charges.
Mes had been charged with driving a vehicle with an expired license, failure to provide a specimen of alcohol, two counts of grievous harm and one count of driving without due care and attention. The former educator had been accused of knocking down two pedestrians, Denver Gomez, Jr., 2, and his aunt, Samantha Romero, 15, as they were walking on a street near the Forest Home Church on January 28 of this year.
Mes had adamantly refused to take an alcohol test, and was therefore charged for that as well. The children’s aunt said that she observed that Mes drove off a short distance after knocking them down so that he could throw out some beer bottles.
Mr. Mes did not stay at the scene of the traffic accident to wait for police, but drove off to the police station, located about 3½ miles away from Forest Home, where he made the report that he had just knocked down the children. Mes also had an expired driver’s license and was driving a Government vehicle, which was later impounded by police.
The cellular phone number that this newspaper had for the relatives of the victims no longer seems to be active, because we were unable to get through to find out what their feelings are with respect to the decision by the magistrate, Patrick Rosado, and furthermore, to find out what is the condition of the nephew and young aunt.
We also tried to get through to the prosecutor, police officer Joseph Martinez, to see why he lost what should have been a sure thing, but we were told twice by a male officer that the prosecutor was out, and on the third call we were informed by a female officer that he was “never in office” for today.
Mes’ lawyer, Dickie Bradley, told Amandala today that the prosecutor had a very weak case. There were no “I-see” witnesses presented by the prosecution, said Bradley, who made a no-case submission to the magistrate last week. That was upheld, and the charges were dropped.
Information to us is that Martinez did not show that Mes was negligent in his driving, or that he was speeding. The magistrate told the prosecutor that the evidence was “scanty” and that furthermore, the arresting officer confirmed in court that he did not warn the Minister of the consequence if he chose not to take the test.
He should have told Mes that if he chose not to take the test, then by right, he would be charged. In addition, Bradley told us, the charge of not driving a vehicle without a license was not proved, which the magistrate recognized.
Of the 13 witnesses that testified, only one came as close to being considered an “I-see” witness, Bradley said, but her version of how Mes crashed into the bus that was parked on the side of the road before knocking down the children was not what the others had said. They said that the bus was parked “off the road”; the witness said “on the road,” and the pictures taken by the Scenes of Crime police unit showed that the bus was on the road.
The testimony of one of the witnesses for the prosecution actually helped the defense, said Bradley. The prosecution brought a witness from the bar that Mes allegedly was drinking in before he knocked down the children, but the witness said that he saw Mes purchasing drinks and sharing it out, but that he never saw Mes drinking, said Bradley.
The witness who testified that beer bottles were seen being thrown from the vehicle, said that she saw the passengers throwing out the bottles, not the Minister.
Bradley said that Mes has taken responsibility for the accident, but that did not mean that he was criminally liable. He has since taken up all medical bills and has given the family over $8,000 in vouchers, and as well, he has bills at KHMH for $8,000, among other bills, Bradley alleged.
Raquel, Samantha’s sister, at the time had told a local TV station that she had turned back home to get her purse that she had forgotten inside.
“When I turn around and look behind me, I saw this vehicle just come swerving in the road and it went that fast that it slammed into the side of a bus that was parked on the side of the road right in front of the church. And all I heard was a loud bang and by the time I could look, the vehicle just continued and drove off and I went running across the road. And by the time I went running across the road I just saw my nephew and sister lying on the ground. My nephew wasn’t breathing, wasn’t saying anything. I just grabbed him and picked him up and called out his name to see if he would answer me, but there was no answer. So I just run into the church and asked for help and everyone came out,” said Raquel.
Raquel continued, saying, “When the vehicle stopped, then I saw that it was him and when I reached there two other passengers that were along with him, that were taking out the Belikin beers and throw them on the roadside, and I told him don’t throw them away because I will still let the policeman come and pick them up and he was all smell.”
Noel Leal, Officer in Charge (OC) of Punta Gorda police, two days following the incident had said, “It also appeared to us, and it is important here that the appearance to the police must be as if he appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and that is the way he appeared to us yesterday, and that is why we asked him if he would cooperate with taking a blood test. But it is his right to refuse and if anybody refuses, then there is a charge for it.”
The children were first rushed to the Punta Gorda Hospital, but later had to flown to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), where Denver was in and out of consciousness because he had two fractures on his skull, which was revealed after a CATSCAN was performed on him. Samantha reportedly sustained minor head injuries, but her left hand was broken in two places.
(For more information on this article, see the headline, “Marcial Mes’ mess” in the #2118 Wednesday issue of the Amandala dated January 31, 2007.)