Albert Valentine and Minor freed of murder charge against a taxi driver Print E-mail
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Thursday, 23 November 2017 00:00

On Friday, November 17, 2017 in the Belize City Supreme Court, Justice Denis S. Hanomansingh, who is presiding over matters in the Dangriga Supreme Court, handed down a ruling that set two persons free of murder.

They are 24-year-old Albert Valentine and a 17-year-old minor. They were acquitted of the murder of taxi driver Antonio Rodriguez of Eldred Village, Punta Gorda. Rodriquez was stabbed multiple times to the body on December 15, 2015 in the Joe Taylor Creek area of Punta Gorda near a bridge at the entrance of PG. On the day of the murder, Valentine was heading to chop a yard on a bicycle when he met the minor and they allegedly decided to hire Rodriguez’s taxi with the motive to rob Rodriguez of his firearm.

When police found the body of Rodriguez, his gun was still with him and his taxi was found off the road. He had been stabbed multiple times to the body.

When the duo caught the taxi, the minor sat in the front seat next to Rodriguez and Valentine sat in the back seat where, according to Valentine’s caution statement, the minor suddenly pulled out a knife and began to stab Rodriguez. Both ran out of the taxi leaving Rodriguez behind.

The duo was charged  jointly with murder but the case of the crown, represented by Crown Counsel Christelle Wilson, crumbled leading to their acquittal. The evidence of the crown came from an alleged confession obtained from Valentine which Judge Hanomansingh ruled inadmissible in the trial due to it being obtained through oppression. It was in that confession that Valentine incriminated the minor, then 15.

Valentine had also given the police an open statement in Dangriga prior to the caution statement in which he also named the minor as a co-accused.

The minor’s attorney in the trial was Audrey Matura but at the case that led to the acquittal, Oscar Selgado, who was also the attorney for Valentine, explained that in law, where two people are criminally charged for a joint enterprise, the evidence of one accused cannot be held against the other except against himself. As a result, the judge gave no weight to what Valentine said in the open statement against the minor, leaving the court with no evidence against the minor.

The crown then brought another witness by the name of Horace Arnold who was in lockdown in a cell where Valentine and the minor were detained in PG. Arnold claimed he overheard the minor and Valentine in a conversation in which they allegedly admitted to committing the murder. Arnold stated that he was in fear of his life which is why he never came to the court.

In the trial, Arnold’s deposition was never tendered into evidence because at the adjournment of the crown’s case he did not return to court to continue his testimony and when the crown tried to locate him, their effort was futile.

Another witness called by the crown in the trial was Kenton Coleman. It is alleged that Coleman gave evidence of a certain conversation between  himself and Valentine in which he claimed Valentine incriminated himself. Coleman said that Valentine told him that a ring he was wearing was what he got from a move he had gone on which belonged to the deceased taxi man, Antonio Rodriguez.

In the trial, Coleman told the court that he only signed one statement for the crown which was a hand written statement but in court, the crown produced a typewritten statement with Coleman’s signature which he denied was his signature. The crown then stumbled into problems and Coleman never returned to court for the remainder of the trial.

In his ruling, Judge Hanomansingh noted that the two additional witnesses produced by the crown never came back to testify so neither of their statement was tendered into evidence against the two accused and he did not accept their evidence as credible. He ruled that he could not find evidence to link the two accused persons to the murder of Antonio Rodriguez.

While the minor was able to go free, Valentine is back behind bars pending another murder charge he has before the court.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 November 2017 14:23