Two Guatemalan nationals who were indicted for murder and were on trial in the Southern session of the Supreme Court were acquitted when Justice Dennis Hanomansingh upheld no case to answer submissions from the accused men’s attorneys.
Adelso Picon Rodriguez and Nilo Morales Valdez were accused of the March 2010 murder of Valentin Duarte, who was shot in Cowpen in the Stann Creek District.
Duarte was shot on March 19 and succumbed to his injuries five days later, on March 24, while he was undergoing treatment at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Crown Counsel Linbert Willis, who called eight witnesses to testify in the Crown’s case that was heard by Justice Hanomansingh, sitting without a jury.
The prosecution’s main witness was the wife of the deceased, who was the only eyewitness to her husband’s shooting.
But the identification evidence presented by the prosecution was insufficient to secure the men’s conviction, because Duarte’s wife failed to give the police a proper description of the men who shot her husband.
Only the two accused men were charged. When the shooting occurred, however, a third man was present, but Duarte’s wife made no mention of that person, who allegedly, was the actual shooter.
Furthermore, she only gave a vague description of the two accused, Rodriguez and Valdez, saying that the men spoke Spanish and one was of Mayan descent, and mentioning the kind of clothing they were wearing.
She had attended an identification parade and picked out the two men.
But under cross-examination by Rodriguez’s attorney Michelle Trapp-Zuniga, she admitted that police showed her a picture of Rodriguez and told her his name.
Trapp-Zuniga, in her no-case submission, argued that the identification of her client was flawed and was a nullity on several grounds, because his identification by the prosecution’s key witness was tainted.
Police, Trapp-Zuniga argued, had violated several rules for conducting a proper identification parade.
Trapp-Zuniga further submitted that the deceased man’s wife made her observation of the accused persons in difficult circumstances.
The witness told the court that when she heard the shot, she saw her wounded husband running towards her and that there were three men behind him.
She testified that before the shooting occurred, there were two men at her shop and they were talking to her husband about a land that he (her husband) was selling, and that she saw them for ten minutes at a distance of about six feet.
In their caution statement to police, the two men admitted to being at the shop to discuss the piece of land the murdered victim was selling, because they wanted to see the land. But they did not implicate themselves in his murder.
Justice Hanomansingh accepted the no-case submission made on behalf of Adelso Picon Rodriguez as it related to identification, and as such, both accused were acquitted from the murder indictment.
Attorney Jeremy Courtenay represented Nilo Valdez. He also made a no case to answer submission, which was upheld by the judge.