Edison Johnson, a 50-year-old businessman and farmer from Guinea Grass Village, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter on Monday, February 8, for killing 23 year-old Saul Eliseo Garcia, a labourer of Rhaburn Ridge Village, and 24 year-old Luke Cox of Carmelita Village. However, Johnson is right now a free man after he was released on time served.
Johnson was charged after he shot and fatally wounded two men who he says were trespassing on his farm on Friday, April 11, 2014. Johnson’s farm is located between miles 46 and 47 on the Northern Highway, and it is in a remote area about one and a half miles in rough terrain, where there are no other houses nearby. His family hadn’t been to the farm for almost a week and during that time thieves burnt their farm down, tore off parts of the roofing for their two houses and stole all the valuable items they had inside the houses. That was how Johnson found his property when he returned to the farm, a property in which he had invested his family’s savings as a sort of retirement plan. When he saw a red pickup truck reversed into his yard and Garcia and Cox jumping out of this vehicle, he thought that they had come back to continue burglarizing his house. That’s when he grabbed his shotgun and shouted at both men who tried to flee. He fired a single shot at both of them. Both Garcia and Cox were struck by pellets of the shotgun blast in their abdomen area. The driver of the vehicle, a third man who didn’t exit, managed to speed off after the gunshot went off and he left his companions behind. Cox was the first person Johnson saw go down and he immediately called police who came, processed the scene, and retrieved the body. Almost 14 hours later, Orange Walk investigators returned to the farm and found Garcia’s body about 300 yards from where Cox fell. He was also dead. Johnson was charged with two counts of murder and had been on remand since. His family was disappointed with the charges. They believe that he shot both men in defense of his property, which has now been thoroughly destroyed. Johnson was the family’s main breadwinner and part of having to fight a murder trial was surviving without his contribution to the home.
Johnson pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of manslaughter. Justice Herbert Lord sentenced him to six years imprisonment for each count but ordered that they run concurrently. Johnson’s attorney, Senior Counsel Ellis Arnold, presented a case to Justice Lord for deductions from the sentences. Judge Lord gave a lenient sentence of six years since Johnson pleaded guilty and saved the court’s time in trial. He then deducted time for the fact that he assisted police in their investigation. A third deduction was for time served on remand. The deductions reached down to a one year sentence and since Johnson had already been on remand for over 20 months he was released on time served. Johnson is now back with his wife and family.