General — 25 August 2009 — by Rowland A. Parks
This morning, Walter Beaton, a taxi driver, appeared in the #2 Magistrate Court before Senior Magistrate Dorothy Flowers, where he was arraigned on one count of murder for causing the unlawful death of Leroy Rhaburn on Saturday, August 22.
Magistrate Flowers told Beaton that no plea would be taken from him, because the offence for which he is charged is an indictable one and will be heard in the Supreme Court. She also explained to Beaton that no bail would be granted to him.
Beaton was remanded into custody at the Belize Central Prison at Hattieville, until his next court appearance on September 17, 2009.
According to police, they were directed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital around 2:10 a.m. on Saturday, August 22, and there they found Leroy Rhaburn, 28, suffering from a stab wound on the left side of his neck.
Police reported that Rhaburn, who lived at #71 Taylors Alley, succumbed to his injury around 2:50 a.m. and was pronounced dead by hospital authorities.
Rhaburn, police say, became involved in an altercation with another man at the corner of Euphrates Avenue and Cemetery Road, where he was stabbed.
According to a witness who was present as the incident unfolded, but who spoke to Amandala on condition of anonymity, as soon as Walter Beaton learned that Rhaburn had died, he called the police and told them where he was, so that they could come and pick him up. When asked if Beaton felt safer in police custody, the witness said that he did not know the answer to that question.
The witness claims to have been present throughout the entire altercation and saw when Rhaburn was stabbed. He said that the knife that was used in the stabbing was small, with a blade that was less than three inches long.
According to the witness, Rhaburn was stabbed because he picked on a man that he habitually taunted. Rhaburn, who was reportedly drunk, became annoyed when he saw a man buying drinks for, and courting, a woman that he apparently had an interest in. The man was reportedly of a more formidable size than Rhaburn, and so Rhaburn, rather than confront his rival, opted to vent his frustration on Walter Beaton by making fun of him – something he reportedly had a custom of doing.
Rhaburn told Beaton that he was a “flossy” (street slang for suspected homosexual) and that men had sex with him when he was in prison. He stood right up in Beaton’s face and shouted the insults at him, the eyewitness said.
Eventually, things got out of hand and Rhaburn attempted to hit Beaton with a beer bottle in his face, but Beaton warded off the attack by blocking Rhaburn with one hand and in the same motion, stabbed him in his throat with the small pocket knife that he had pulled out of his pants pocket.
Another eyewitness, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, and who was socializing with a group of men when the incident occurred, corroborated what the first eyewitness said, and attested to the fact that Rhaburn had hurled homosexuality-related insults at Beaton.
“I got to know that Rhaburn was stabbed after I saw him holding his neck and blood was coming from his neck. I then ran over to where he was standing on the street side and when I got to him, his eyes were already turning up in his head, and he eased right down. I then took off my shirt and held it to his neck,” the eyewitness said.
After Beaton had stabbed Rhaburn, he left the area on foot and walked quickly toward the intersection at King Street and Euphrates Avenue, the eyewitness said.
Rhaburn’s relatives declined an interview with Amandala.
Rhaburn was no stranger to the law. In fact, he died leaving a number of cases pending in the Magistrate’s Court. This morning, his name was posted on the court roster for this week, as he was scheduled to appear in court on an assault charge.
By Amandala’s count, Rhaburn is the sixty-third person to be murdered in Belize since the beginning of this year.