General — 10 February 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Norman Slusher, accused of the 2012 barbershop murder of Jason Canto, on trial

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 8, 2018– On Tuesday, a trial by judge sitting without jury began in the Supreme Court of Justice Adolph Lucas for the man accused of the May 2012 murder of Jason Canto, 30, who died in a hail of bullets sprayed at him inside Dale’s Barbershop, located at the corner of West Canal and Bishop Street.

The accused murderer, Norman Slusher, who is said to be an affiliate of the George Street Gang, also sustained gunshot injuries at the murder scene. Businessman Jose Shoman was a customer inside the barbershop and had his licensed firearm on him when two armed men appeared.

Slusher, 28, is being defended by attorney Simeon Sampson, S.C., while the Crown’s evidence is being led by Crown Counsel Janelle Tillett.

Following her opening address to the court, in which Tillett explained that she intended to prove that the accused Slusher murdered Jason Canto on May 10, 2012, the Crown called its first witness, Scenes of Crime technician Brian Lopez.

Lopez testified that he saw the lifeless body of Canto in the barbershop, and that there were several injuries on the body that he photographed.

Lopez also testified that at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital morgue, he was handed the result of the post-mortem examination that was performed by Dr. Mario Estradabran, the police pathologist.

Lopez testified that in addition to the post-mortem result, he was handed bullet fragments that were taken out of Canto’s body. Lopez told the court that he took the fragments to his office at the Queen Street Police Station, from which they were sent to the National Forensic Science Services.

In Lopez’ testimony, he indicated that, apart from handling the post-mortem results and fragments from the deceased’s body, he had gotten a firearm and ammunition from Sergeant Ismael Westby, who was along with the licensed holder of the firearm, businessman Jose Shoman.

On the second day of the trial, the Crown called Inspector of Police Ismael Westby, who, at the time of the murder, was posted at the homicide office at Eastern Division.

Inspector Westby testified that on May 10, 2012, he, along with other police officers, proceeded to Dale’s Barber Shop, where he met Scenes of Crime technician Lopez.

“I, along with Lopez, did a walk-through and visual inspection of an alleged shooting incident inside the barber shop,” Westby said.

Westby testified that inside the barber shop, he saw the motionless body of a dark-complexioned male who was lying face-up.

“I also observed gunshot wounds to the right side of the chest, two wounds in the right armpit, one wound in the inner right arm, one wound in the right side of the back, and four wounds in the left outer arm,” he said.

Westby said that after he and Lopez did the walk-through, the body was transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), but they remained on the scene. Lopez collected 15 expended shells, of which 3 were Winchester brand, 3 were CFL, and 9 were Aguila. Outside, they found a magazine with one live round. On the sidewalk, they found 5 live rounds of ammunition.

“From the barber shop facing Bishop Street, there was a red liquid substance, suspected to be blood,” Westby told the court.

“I did go on Bishop Street; around 8:20 p.m. I was approached by PC 899 Mario Chun, who told me certain things and led me along Bishop Street, where, as I walked, I saw red liquid substance, suspected to be blood.” Westby testified.

Westby continued, testifying that he was taken to an abandoned house by PC Chun, “where I saw red substance on the ground, along with a ¾ pants and a camouflage red bandana, which were processed and collected by Mr. Lopez.”

Westby went on to testify that “about 9:15 p.m., I visited the KHMH, along with PC Chun, inquiring about a dark-skinned man with alleged gunshot wounds at the hospital. I found out the name of the man to be Norman Slusher.”

Westby said that he saw Lopez again at the Scenes of Crime Office, and he said that at that office, he “took Mr. Jose Shoman to hand over a Glock 9×19 mm pistol along with a magazine.”

Westby told the court that on May 28, 2012, he swore to an information and complaint and formally arrested and charged Norman Slusher for the offense of murder for the death of Jason Canto.

The hearing continued, and then slipped into a voir dire late on Wednesday and continued into Thursday morning. On Wednesday during the voir dire, Slusher took the witness stand and told the court that police punched him in his mouth and that was the reason that he gave them a statement.

Justice Lucas is expected to rule on Friday morning on the submissions made during the voir dire made today

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