Brothers free of Murder Charges Print E-mail
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Thursday, 14 June 2012 00:00

On Tuesday June 12, brothers 26-year-old Lynton and 22-year-old Jody Gentle were found not guilty of the murder of 25 year old Alpheus Smith, who was killed on Curassow Street in Belize City on June 16th, 2007.

The men were acquitted after prosecutor, Christophe Rodriguez, was unable to get cooperation from Nathaniel Bowen, who was a crucial witness. During the trial, Bowen had to be treated as hostile after he claimed that he had not given a statement to police in 2007. Despite being locked down at the Queen Street Police Station overnight, Bowen refused to remember what he had told police in 2007 and without his evidence, Prosecutor Rodriguez was forced to close his case against the brothers.

In Bowen's 2007 statement and in a subsequent testimony against the brothers' first trial in 2009, he said that on June 16th, 2007 he was riding his bicycle on Gibnut Street when he found a group of people surrounding a vehicle. At the time, Smith's girlfriend asked him to take Smith to the hospital. He got the key from Smith's pants pocket and took him to the KHMH. In court, when his statement was shown to him, Bowen said he could not see it because he had eye problems. To every question put to him by Prosecutor Rodriguez, Bowen responded, “I don’t recall.”
Justice Adolph Lucas then heard a no case submission by the men’s attorney, Hubert Elrington. Justice Lucas instructed the jury of 10 women and 2 men to acquit the Gentle brothers of murder and the alternative charge of manslaughter since one of the elements had not been proven.

Justice Lucas in a brief 3-minute address to the jurors told them that in a trial for murder, the crown must prove that the death of a person was caused by harm; that harm which caused his death was inflicted unlawfully; and that it was the two brothers who caused the harm and that when they caused the harm, they intended to kill.  He further told them that there is no evidence that the brothers caused  harm but that there is evidence that he died.

The trial against the Gentle brothers began on June 4, and the prosecutor had called several witnesses including his eye witness, Senior Superintendent of Police, Chester Williams, who was also in the company of another police officer, Obed Arzu. At the time, he claimed he saw the brothers shooting into a vehicle on Curassow Street. Neither Williams nor Arzu had made checks to see who the man was inside the gold Cherokee that they claimed the Gentle brothers had shot at and that was the reason why the prosecutor needed Bowen’s testimony to fill in that gap.

This is the Gentle brothers’ second murder trial. In 2009, their trial ended in a hung jury when the 12-member jury could not reach a verdict after over four hours of deliberation.  The brothers were ordered a retrial.  In the 2007 trial, Bowen had testified with no problems helping the prosecution to fill the gap to prove the element of the harm being caused to Smith and that it was the brothers who caused that harm.