Features — 24 June 2011 — by Aaron Humes
It is typical for all persons accused of a crime, some of whom are sometimes injured and receiving treatment, to make an appearance in the Magistrate’s Court to hear the charges against them.
But it was physically impossible for Crispin Moreno, 29, of Carmelita, Orange Walk District, who is accused of the murder of Orange Walk physician and gynecologist Dr. Enrique Fernando Guerra, 43.
Dr. Guerra died on June 8 after languishing in a coma, rendered brain-dead after injuries sustained when he was badly beaten and robbed of his belongings by a group of men on Main Street in Orange Walk Town early in the morning of May 21, 2011.
Moreno had been charged, along with Richard Berry, 20; Alejandro Nunez, 20; and two minors, 15 and 16, all of Orange Walk Town, with attempted murder.
But on May 27, 2011, around 2:00 in the afternoon and after bus operators had blockaded the Northern Highway for much of the morning, a prison van carrying12 prisoners back to the Central Prison, including Moreno, and driven by a police officer, overturned between Miles 37 and 38, causing the death of prison warden Delbert McLaughlin, and severe spinal injuries to Moreno that landed him at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), where he was being treated up to a week ago. His treatment delayed the reading of the upgraded charges against him
And so on Wednesday morning around 9:15, an ambulance owned by Belize Emergency Response Team (BERT) pulled up to the Magistrate’s Court on Treasury Lane.
About 15 minutes later, Magistrate Roberto Ordonez walked outside, entered the ambulance, and inquired about the health of the prisoner.
After being assured by Moreno that he was all right, Magistrate Ordonez read the single charge of murder. As the offence is indictable and not subject to bail, no plea was taken and bail was denied.
Moreno will return to Orange Walk Town, along with his co-accused, for their next hearing on July 28, 2011. Until then, he remains in the medical ward at the Central Prison.