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Murder witness speaks out

HighlightsMurder witness speaks out

Photo: Maia James

26-year-old Maia James witnessed her friend get killed in Belize and almost died herself, and says it was a hit by his ex-partner.

by Charles Gladden

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 6, 2024

26-year-old Maia James, a mother of two, was supposed to be killed too in a chilling murder that took the life of her longtime friend, 32-year-old Roy Lee Burgess, in April of this year. Maia, of the US, broke her silence in a one-on-one interview with Breakbeat Media in the US on the series of events from her point of view as she survived that night.

Photo: Roy Lee Burgess, deceased

In previous Amandala articles, Burgess and James were reportedly inside a vehicle at Mile 22 along the Placencia Road, and when James was about to exit the car, a gunman alleged to be 31-year-old Ellis Meighan of Belize City, who is also an associate of the deceased, fired multiple shots at the duo, killing Burgess and injuring James.

Belizean authorities initially suggested that the motive for the fatal shooting was jealousy, and James confirmed that theory during the interview. She noted that approximately two weeks before the incident happened, Burgess had called it quits with his partner, an older Caucasian woman, who began to threaten his life because of it.

James begins telling the story about herself and Burgess meeting up that night and going to an establishment. While there, Burgess stepped out, and a few minutes later, a man she later identified as Meighan came asking her if she was ready to leave, so all three-persons got inside Burgess’ vehicle.

James describes the car ride as awkward, with Meighan only responding with one-word answers. After an estimated 20-minute drive, they dropped him off at a secluded location to be picked up by someone else, and that’s where things went sideways.

“He opened the car door and stepped out, and when he did that, I turned around and looked at his face, and that is the only reason I [can] know what he looks like right now, because I turned around and looked at his face. By the time I turned around and looked at him all I heard was pop, pop, pop, and I felt like fire on my ear, it burnt so bad. When it happened, I was like, this cannot be gunshots right now,” she said.

After the shooting occurred, James called her mother to inform her what had happened.

“I said, ‘Ma, Cat dead; Juice, Juice, Juice shoot me’. She thought I was playing. She said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘I just got shot’. She said, ‘No; where are you, where are you?’ I was explaining to her the name of the resort, and she did not understand me because my mouth is swollen bad, everything is swollen,” she said.

“… Like, shortly after that the police showed up. I don’t know who the person was, to that day, but I thought they had come back. I thought he saw me running in the bush, so I immediately thought it was him. So, I saw the police lights and heard them leave their cars, but nobody was looking for me. I said, ‘Police, I am here in the bushes.’ It was some tall bushes, so I was kicking to move so they could find me. They were like, ‘You all hear that? Someone is in the bushes.’ They found me, looked at me, and said, ‘Who did this to you?’ I said, ‘Juice did this to me.’ As soon as I said ‘Juice,’ it was like everybody knew who that was. He went straight to the police car, pulled up his picture, showed it to me, and I was like, ‘Yes, him’,” she added.

James was taken to the clinic and then to the Southern Regional Hospital. She explained that the bullet fractured her jaw and exited through her left cheek, and she underwent three surgeries with two more planned surgeries.

The Belize Police Department had issued a wanted poster for Meighan to be arrested. About a week ago, reports surfaced that he was detained by US authorities attempting to illegally enter that country, and was locked up at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego, California.

In an interview last week Friday with Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, he mentioned that Meighan is claiming asylum in the US and will go through the process. If he doesn’t meet the requirements, Meighan will be deported to face charges against him in Belize.

James alleges that police assisted Meighan to flee, and that he is the stepson of Commissioner Williams, who has yet to comment on those allegations.

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