Headline — 18 May 2019 — by Albert J. Ciego
Outrage over Zena’s manslaughter charge

Members of the public are angry that only a manslaughter charge was brought against Zena Armstrong for 19-year-old Ana Villanueva’s stabbing death

COROZAL TOWN, Thurs. May 16, 2019– The mother of a 4-year-old child, Zena Armstrong, 19, of Corozal Town, has been charged with manslaughter for the stabbing death of 19-year-old Ana Villanueva, also of Corozal Town.

Armstrong was taken to the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court yesterday, where she was arraigned before Magistrate Patricia Arana. Reliable information to us is that when the court asked her why she should be granted bail, she replied that she was the mother of a young child and that this was her first offense.

The prosecution strongly objected to bail being granted to her and told the court that jail was the safest place for her due to the outrage over Villanueva’s death, and that police’s investigation into the incident is ongoing and that the charge might be upgraded.

Armstrong nevertheless was offered bail of $8,000 and a surety of the same amount, and was ordered to return to court on June 17. There were conditions attached to the bail. She must surrender all travel documents; she must report to the Corozal Police Station every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and she must not interfere with any witnesses in the case.

Also, she must not leave the country without notifying the court and she must attend court each time the case is called until it is disposed of.

Police say that Villanueva, an outstanding student who was the valedictorian of Ladyville Tech High School’s graduating class of 2018, was socializing with a friend at a Mothers’ Day program at a house at the corner of 4th Street North and 10th Avenue in Corozal Town, at about 11:00 Sunday night, when Armstrong approached and made insulting comments that were aimed at Villanueva, after which she rode away on a bicycle.

Police said that Armstrong returned about 20 minutes later, as Villanueva was walking out of the yard, and attacked and stabbed Villanueva in the left side of her chest, in her heart.

Villanueva tried to escape but she was only able to run a short distance before she fell. Armstrong then fled the scene on her bicycle.

Villanueva’s friend, who said she tried to intervene but was unable to protect her, then called police, who came about 15 minutes later and saw Villanueva lying on the road, in a pool of blood. She was taken to the Corozal Community Hospital, where she was declared dead on arrival.

Members of the public have expressed great dissatisfaction over the fact that only a manslaughter charge was brought against Armstrong for Villanueva’s death. They say that Armstrong (whose father is reportedly a police officer) should have been charged with murder because reports are that she left the scene and came back to attack Villanueva.

Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams said it doesn’t matter who the parents are, and that the authorities determine what charges to bring on the basis of the evidence presented by the investigators.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lyn Vidal, said that the charge of manslaughter was preferred based on the evidence that the police provided. After going through the statement given by Armstrong, and what had occurred leading up to the incident, DPP Vidal said that she concluded that there is no evidence that Armstrong intended to kill Villanueva.

DPP Vidal told Love FM that the investigation is ongoing and the case will be reassessed if police should find additional evidence.

Family members of Villanueva said that she was aspiring to be a nurse. Some time ago she was employed at a casino, but she reportedly quit the job because Armstrong had applied for a job at the same establishment.

Ana Villanueva’s friends say she had attracted the attention of a man who tried to court her, but the man was loved by Armstrong, who became resentful of Villanueva.

Police said that jealousy may have been at the bottom of the tragedy, and a man who was involved with both of the women was detained, but was later released without charges. ACP Myvette said that ongoing problems between the two women had not been reported.

Villanueva’s friends said that she will be remembered as happy and friendly, but that life has not always been to kind to her.

In March, the Villanueva family home located on Third Street in Corozal Town was completely destroyed by fire. Her sister suffered serious burns to her body in the fire, and has since been hospitalized. Villanueva was her caretaker.

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