BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 22, 2016–A Belize City woman who is the mother of a one-month-old baby son and who has previous convictions for crimes of dishonesty was sentenced to 7 years in prison this morning when she appeared before Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser and changed her “not guilty of burglary” plea to “guilty,” and also pleaded guilty to a recent theft charge.
As Margarita Pech stood in front of Magistrate Fraser, she offered to show a picture of her son.
“Before you left from here, I asked you where the cards [credit cards, social security card and other identification documents belonging to Dr. Martha Habet] are from out of the wallet,” Fraser said to the 35-year-old Pech.
Pech replied, “Your honor, I plead guilty.”
“Where are the cards?” Fraser asked again.
“Your Honor, I disposed of them because I wanted to buy food for my baby,” Pech said in a low voice, as she fought to control herself from crying.
“You are also charged with burglary and handling stolen goods,” Fraser told the accused woman.
“Your Honor, me one never involved in that.”
“You had pleaded not guilty. Is your plea still the same?” Fraser asked.
“Some guys took me to the house [Kelly Musa’s house] and told me that if I didn’t do it, they would hurt me and my unborn child,” Pech said.
She continued, “They held me up with a knife and told me to go in the place against my will.”
Pech could not hold back her tears any longer and she began crying
“I even gave the police the young man’s name. But the police never picked him up. He still threatens me when he sees me on the street. He told me that if I talk against him in court he will deal with me,” Pech said in tears.
Court documents say that on May 29, 2015, Kelly Musa and the family maid, Elizabeth Figueroa, reported to police that a woman had entered their home and made off with a number of pieces jewelry which included wrist watches, gold earrings, chains and bracelets, all to a total value of $3,255.
Unbeknown to Pech, however, the home had a working video surveillance camera system and she was caught on camera as she made off with the items.
“The items that police found on me is the stuff the guys did not want and they gave me,” Pech told the court.
Pech said, “Because I have a mental problem, they use that against me.
“I don’t see any mental problem; what I see is a sticky finger problem,” Fraser responded.
Pech told the court that they have her on pills and injections.
“Well, they must have misdiagnosed you. What I see here is a sticky finger problem,” Fraser repeated, before she began to explain to the convicted woman that the penalty for burglary starts at 5 years in prison and extends to 10 years. The law makes provision for a proviso, that providing you don’t have a criminal record, a fine can be imposed. But in your case, your name appeared in our records 20 times, the Chief Magistrate said.
Beginning in 1999, Pech had served time in prison for theft, burglary and handling stolen goods, and was bound to keep the peace after she was convicted and fined for a mischievous act.
Fraser noted that, “Except for the mischievous act, all the other convictions were for crimes of dishonesty. So, I have to impose the custodial sentence. I don’t think it’s mental.”
As the Senior Magistrate was writing up the warrant to commit Pech to the Belize Central Prison, Pech was crying all along.
After she finished writing up the court papers, Fraser told Pech, “You will have to explain to that baby why you were not there for him.”
Fraser sentenced her to 6 years for the burglary of the Musa’s home and 1 year for the theft of Dr. Martha Habet’s wallet from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, which occurred on February 10, 2016.
Pech had gone to the hospital for treatment, but found herself in a locker area where employees keep their personal belongings and stole Dr. Habet’s wallet, containing about $40, and her personal documents.
Fraser also stipulated that the sentences are to run consecutively, which means that Margarita Pech will have to spend a total of 7 years behind bars.