General — 20 October 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
“Mentally unfit” prisoner, without trial, spends10 years in prison

 Even if he were convicted for arson, he would likely have spent only 5 years

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Oct. 17, 2018– Two family members of a Belize City man who has been accused of arson but was never indicted and tried for the offense, because he was declared mentally unfit to go through a trial, want him released from the Belize Central Prison, where he has been held for almost 10 years.

In January 2008, Earnest Billary visited his sister, Dawn Billary, at her house at 10 Hibiscus Lane in St. Martin De Porres. The purpose of the visit was to ask his sister if he could stay at her house.

She refused, and Earnest, who had just completed serving a jail sentence a week before, allegedly threatened her.

A short time after he allegedly threatened his sister, a massive fire completely destroyed his sister’s two-bedroom concrete house, where she had lived with her children for almost 3 decades.

If it was not for her teenage son, also named Earnest Billary, Dawn’s two younger children might have perished in the blaze, which destroyed everything in the uninsured house. Dawn Billary estimated the loss she suffered as a result of the destruction of her home to be about $70,000.

Police charged Billary with arson, but he was later said to be a person who is mentally challenged. At the time of the fire in 2008, Dawn had mentioned that her brother, Earnest, had developed mental illness about four years prior, and that his condition had placed a strain on their family.

This morning, Marion Williams, 51, and her daughter, Sandra Thompson, 35, went to the Supreme Court to find out how to proceed with getting Billary, who is their brother and uncle, released from prison.

Thompson told us that one attorney told them that he could get Billary released on bail for $1,000.

“So now his sisters are trying to put together that money to pay the attorney,” Thompson offered.

Thompson went on to explain that her uncle is not living at Tango 6, in the prison, where inmates who are mentally ill are housed.

“He is in the ARC building; that’s where I visited him the last time I went to the prison,” Thompson explained.

Thompson added, “Look how long my uncle deh da jail. At the time they said he couldn’t stand trial da the Supreme Court, they should a mi send him da crazy house. He no business da jail, if ih crazy.”

Thompson said the system had just left her uncle in prison and no one has contacted her family about him.

We asked the chief executive officer of the prison, Virgilio Murillo, what would be the procedure to follow to get Billary released.

“Normally, they would have to ask for a psychiatric evaluation to determine his fitness to stand trial,” Murillo replied.

We asked him for a comment about all the years that Billary has already spent in prison.

Murillo said, “If the psychiatrist determines that he is sane, that he is aware of his surroundings and that he is fit to go in front of a judge so he can make a determination, in my mind, more than likely he would be released immediately.”

Murillo said he does not know what recourse Billary has for the extra time he has spent, because, he explained, “ to my recollection, I don’t see anybody spending more than five years for arson.”

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