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Pleads guilty to save court’s time; receives a fine only

GeneralPleads guilty to save court’s time; receives a fine only

Photo: Emerson Garnett

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Apr. 9, 2024

A video footage that went viral on Facebook – with a dreadlocks man beating up another man, then another man joined in and held the man who was being beaten up, and while the man who was being beaten up was screaming on the ground his first assailant threw a sewerage bowl at him – has led police to levy the charge of common assault against the main perpetrator.

That man who was arrested has been identified as a former murder suspect who was acquitted of the charge – 33-year-old Emerson Garnett.

The accused, Garnett wasted no time in pleading guilty to the offense; but the sitting Senior Magistrate questioned the charge levied by the police, as the offense committed was a very serious one where he beat up a man and injured him, noted the Senior Magistrate.

Garnett, 33, a construction worker of Belama Phase 5, Belize City, appeared before a Senior Magistrate in Court #3 where he was read two counts: common assault, and using threatening words upon Mark Avilez.

However, despite the fact that he pleaded guilty to both charges, the Prosecutor withdrew the charge of using threatening words. That’s because in law, for the offense of using threatening words to be accepted, it had to have been said in the view of the public. The Prosecutor agreed that at the time the words were uttered to Avilez, it was said in a yard and not on the street in any public area, hence the withdrawal of the charge.

Garnett, in pleading guilty, told the court that he will not waste the court’s time, hence why he was pleading guilty. But, despite accepting his guilty plea for common assault, the Senior Magistrate was concerned as it related to the charge of common assault levied upon him.

She noted in court that Garnett pleaded guilty to attacking someone in a house and injuring him, so the charge should have been more serious than common assault.

But Garnett, who is a first-time offender for any violent offense, was imposed a fine.

In mitigation, he asked the court for leniency, and to consider the fact that he is a father of two girls of whom he is their sole provider.

Garnett was imposed a fine of $505 including cost of court, and was given until July 4, 2024 to pay, in default, 3 months’ imprisonment.

The incident occurred on March 30, 2024, but Avilez did not report the matter to police until a week later, on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

In that report, police say that Mark Avilez, a resident of a North Front Street address, visited the Racoon Street Police Station and reported that on March 30, 2024 at around 8:10 p.m., he received a WhatsApp message from his ex-girlfriend, a 23-year-old woman of Southside Belize City, asking him to take some food for her.

Avilez said he took the food to his ex-girlfriend’s home at around 8:30 p.m., and that’s when he met a fair-skinned man with long dreadlocks hair, about 5 feet 7 inches in height and about 175 pounds, whom he recognized as “Jimbo”, and along with him was another man whom he recognized as “DeShawn.”

According to Avilez, “Jimbo” ordered him to kneel down on the ground, and that’s when he (“Jimbo”) attacked him, hitting him in his face with his right hand, and threatened him that he will kill him.

According to Avilez, during this time his ex-girlfriend was videoing the entire ordeal.

On Monday, April 8, 2024, Precinct 2 QRT personnel detained Garnett a.k.a. “Jimbo” who presented his social security card that confirmed his identity.

At his arraignment, Garnett, when asked by the Senior Magistrate if he goes by the nickname, “Jimbo”, said, yes.

In an interview this evening, Garnett, when asked why he pleaded guilty, said he did so because he did not want to waste the court’s time and, although he agreed that the video footage didn’t really look like him, he said he knew it was him.

Emerson Garnett was acquitted of murder in 2023.

He and Leroy Haulze were charged jointly for the murder of businessman, Jose Hilario Diaz, which occurred on Cemetery Road on July 16, 2019.

In a trial by judge before Justice Nigel Pilgrim of the High Court, Garnett was found not guilty of murder, while his co-accused, Haulze was convicted.

Late this evening, the mother of Avilez said that she is upset as to how and why the police have not arrested and charged anyone else, including Avilez’s ex-girlfriend and the man seen in the video who held him down during the attack.

The mother said her son could have been killed.

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