BELIZE CITY, Tues. Dec. 18, 2018– A sentence of 29 years in prison was imposed today by Justice Adolph Lucas on Ernest Thurton, Jr., aka “Dangalang”, who was convicted on September 12 of the murders of Frank James, 41, and Robert Young, 50.
Justice Lucas said that the sentence was life imprisonment for the murders of James and Young, and the sentences are to run concurrently. He explained, however, that since the court could no longer give a sentence of life imprisonment without parole and it must give a fixed sentence, he would be imposing a sentence of 35 years and was deducting 6 years from the sentence, which was the time Thurton spent on remand.
He told Thurton that he would be eligible for parole after he has served 29 years, but parole is not automatic and that the parole board would look at his behavior before he is recommended for parole.
In determining the length of the sentence, Justice Lucas said he took into consideration the aggravating factors and the mitigating factors, and, he said, the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors.
James and Young were shot and killed around 9 p.m. on October 25, 2012. Three men — Thurton; Eric Martinez, aka “Junior H;” and Jasper Brannon — went to a dock yard on North Front Street, where they met James and Young and confronted them about a bicycle that was stolen from a woman, Dorothy Gideon.
Martinez, who was armed with a firearm, made James and Young kneel down and he hit James with the gun.
Thurton then, according to statements made in court, took the gun away from Martinez and shot James.
Young then got up and ran. Thurton shot him while he was running and he collapsed on North Front Street near to Belchina Bridge and died.
The Crown’s main witness was Kurt Pech, who resided at the dockyard and whom James and Young were visiting prior to the incident.
Pech testified that he saw Martinez with the gun and he saw Thurton take the gun away from Martinez. He said he went inside his house and then he heard two loud bangs. He said when he came outside he saw James lying on the ground and he saw Young running out of the dock yard.
He also said he saw Thurton, Martinez and Brannon leaving the dock yard and heading on North Front Street towards Victoria Street.
Brannon was charged jointly with Thurton for the murders, but on August 6, he was acquitted of the charges by Justice Lucas on a no-case-to answer submission that was made by his attorney, Leslie Hamilton.
Thurton was represented by attorney Anthony Sylvestre while the Crown was represented by Crown Counsel Portia Ferguson.