Headline — 17 August 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
Cops get 16 months for killing man in police cell

Sotz’s family not happy with the judge’s sentence for Constables Hallet King and Leonard Nunez.

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Aug. 14, 2019– Last month, a jury deliberated for four hours, before they returned a guilty of manslaughter verdict against two policemen for causing the death of Hilberto Sotz, 18, when he was detained at the Caye Caulker Police Station.

Sotz was detained while police on the island were investigating a burglary.

Following Sotz’s death, residents of Caye Caulker descended on the island’s police station and Caye Caulker police had to send for re-enforcement from Belize City.

A police investigation of the June 8, 2015 incident led to the arrest of police constables Hallet King and Leonard Nunez, who were initially charged with murder and were remanded.

The murder charge, however, was reduced to manslaughter upon the instructions of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The manslaughter charge paved the way for the two lawmen to access bail, which they obtained in April 2016.

Following the jury’s guilty verdict, King and Nunez were once more remanded while they awaited sentencing from Supreme Court Justice Colin Williams.

Yesterday, Tuesday, August 13, Justice Williams sentenced the two cops to the time that they had already served on remand.

So at the end of the sentencing hearing, King and Nunez walked out of the court as free men.

The post-mortem exam that was performed on Sotz did not confirm whether or not he died from blunt force trauma to the head, or if he had sustained a fall.

Justice Williams assessed the aggravating factors of the case, which were that Sotz died while he was in police custody.

The mitigating factors were that the convicts were policemen and had no criminal record; besides, they had the support of their family’s network and they had shown remorse for the crime of which they were convicted.

So, the one year and four months that King and Nunez spent on remand was all the time that the judge felt that they should spend behind bars.

Sotz’s mother and father were in court for the sentencing, and they were devastated by the sentence the judge handed down to the men responsible for their son’s death. Sotz’s parents told court reporters that they would take out a civil claim against the two cops.

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