Chessman had been freed of several previous murder charges
BELIZE CITY, Wed. May 29, 2019– Today, after she heard a plea for mitigation from John Chessman, Jr., 28, who was charged with murder but had pleaded guilty to manslaughter, Madam Justice Marilyn Williams set July 22 as the date for sentencing.
There were no character witnesses, and only Chessman spoke on his behalf. He said the he was sorry for what he did. Chessman was charged with the murder of Chinese businessman Jiantao Yang, who was shot in the back of the head about 5 p.m. on August 9, 2012.
Yang was at his business establishment, E-Bay Supermarket, located at 116 Crab Catcher Street in Ladyville, when Chessman and another man entered. The men held up Yang at gunpoint and they demanded money. They made their way behind the counter and while Yang was opening the cash register, one of them shot Yang.
The men then fled from the supermarket with some money and other items.
Police reported that after the incident, they retrieved a video recording from the supermarket which showed the faces of the perpetrators. It was this video footage that was shown by Senior Crown Counsel Sheneiza Smith today during the mitigation to give an indication to the court of the aggravating factors.
On August 11, 2012, Chessman and another man, Dillon Clarke, were charged with Yang’s murder. Clarke, however, has maintained his plea of not guilty and he intends to go to trial.
Chessman first gained notoriety in 2005 when he and his older brother, Robert Gillett, were charged with the murder of Mara Naomi Garcia, whose throat was slit with a samurai sword during the burglary of a house in the Hollywood area of Ladyville, where she worked as a maid.
In 2008, Chessman was freed of the charge after it was determined that the police had forced a confession statement out of him. Gillett, however, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
About one month after he beat the murder rap, Chessman was arrested and charged with double murder. The charges were for the shooting deaths of Karen Crawford, 19, and Maurice Cadle, 44, on May 29, 2008, in Bermudian Landing. According to the allegation against him, the shooter and 3 accomplices went to Bermudian Landing in search of Emerson Wade, but he was not there.
The gunman then shot Cadle in the left temple and as she ran, Crawford was shot in her back. On May 11, 2012, Chessman was found not guilty of the murders of Crawford and Cadle in the court of Justice Adolph Lucas.