Headline — 25 August 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
The trial of the Stuarts’ accused murderers winds down

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 23, 2018– The Supreme Court is officially on vacation break until it opens for the September session, but for Justice Colin Williams there is no break, as this morning his court convened for the continuing trial of two men accused of the October 17, 2010 double murder of attorney Richard Stuart and his accountant wife, Maria Stuart.

This morning the court heard from the last witness for the prosecution, Compton Patrick Beecher, a forensic expert at the Caribbean Genetics unit of the University of the West Indies. This morning, Beecher testified via teleconference from Jamaica.

The Crown had sent some fingernail clippings from the two murdered victims, and some samples of blood that were taken from Richard Stuart’s vehicle.

 

Beecher’s testimony centered on the methods he used for the DNA testing of the blood samples that were submitted to him for testing.

When Beecher is finished with his testimony the prosecution will close its case, then the two attorneys for the accused will address the court.

Leroy Banner is representing Lopez Avila, while Oscar Selgado is representing Milton Maza. Both accused men are hearing the evidence against them at the trial through the court’s Spanish interpreter.

In the early morning hours of October 17, 2010, Richard and Maria Stuart returned home to their West Landivar home, where they were attacked and stabbed to death. The killer or killers had managed to gain entrance into the Stuart’s house, and there they waited for them to return home.

Both were stabbed about 25 times. They were found lying face-up in pools of blood.

At the time the couple was murdered, their four children were at home, along with their housekeeper. The children and their housekeeper were on the third floor of the home, and it was the housekeeper who called 911 after she heard the screams of her employers coming from the second floor of the three-storey building.

The housekeeper said that the first person she heard scream was Mrs. Stuart, and then Mr. Stuart also began screaming out. The housekeeper said she and the eldest child, who was 8-years-old at the time, locked themselves up in a walk-in closet and called 911 from inside the closet.

The housekeeper revealed that one of the accused was once an employee of the Stuarts, and that he had been fired. She said that this ex-employee of the Stuarts returned to the house a few weeks before the murders and stole one of the family’s vehicles, a Toyota Highlander. This vehicle was later recovered. After the incident Mr. Stuart had bought a new set of locks for his home, but had not gotten around to change the locks on the house.

Police investigators moved swiftly in making their first arrest after the murders. Police found Richard Stuart’s Toyota Scion in St. Matthews Village, and the man driving the vehicle was the same former employee of Stuart who had been fired.

On the night of the murder, a camera at the house of one of the Stuarts’ neighbors, captured footage of two men leaving the Stuarts’ house in their vehicle.

When police found the man and the vehicle, they also found a knife under the seat, inside the vehicle. That knife is one of the objects that was sent for DNA testing in Jamaica, as well as samples of blood that were found inside the vehicle.

The Crown’s case is being presented by Crown Counsel Rene Montero, Jr. He is being assisted by Crown Counsel Kileru Awich.

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