Murder Struck Out! Justin Orellana charged for Manslaughter of His Stepfather Print E-mail
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Thursday, 27 September 2012 00:00

Justin Orellana Shortly after 8:30 on Tuesday night, September 24th, a jury of 12 emerged out of the deliberating room in the murder trial against 23-year-old Justin Orillana without a conclusive verdict.

Orellana had been on remand since 2007 for the murder of 38-year-old Cecil Thompson, his stepfather. Around 7 p.m. on March 27th, 2007 Orellana went to Thompson’s Vernon Street residence and an argument ensued. In a statement to police, Orellana claimed he was asking for his “things” from Thompson but did not get them. Orellana then got a knife and asked for his stuff once more. Thompson did not cooperate and that was when Orellana stabbed him numerous times. A doctor testified that Thompson was stabbed as many as 12 times. He was stabbed once to the forehead, a stab wound that fractured the skull dividing it into two.   He was also stabbed to the chest, hands, face and over the body.

There was no eye witness to the murder. Prosecutor Thalia-Megan Francis relied heavily on the testimony of two police officers, who claimed to receive caution statements from Orellana. Both officers testified that Orellana, after being detained and duly cautioned, reportedly confessed that he was at Thompson's Vernon Street home at around 7 p.m. on March 27th, 2007, and that he stabbed Thompson out of anger but didn't mean for him to die. Sgt. Jose Zetina presented a written statement from Orellana that he recorded in which Orellana explained that he asked for his things and Thompson did not respond to him. In the written statement, Orellana said that after he got the knife and was angry, something blocked his eyes and when he regained consciousness he had already stabbed his stepfather. Sgt. Nicolas Palomo claimed that in an oral statement Orellana said, “I did not mean to do what I did. I went home asked my father for my things. He talk to me like he wanted to knock me.  I went outside and sat down.  I saw a knife and I just wanted to hurt him.  I caught a bus to Hattieville and I threw away the bloody knife.”

In his defense, Orellana said that he wasn't at the Vernon Street house when this murder took place. He categorically denied any claims that he gave statements to police, written or oral. The jury deliberated for over five hours before returning without a verdict. Justice Troadio John Gonzalez ordered a mistrial and Orellana was acquitted of the murder charge. However, on Wednesday, September 26th, he was returned to the Belize Supreme Court to answer to a charge of manslaughter. Since he had been on remand for over 5 years for a crime he was acquitted of and manslaughter is a bailable offense, he was granted bail in the sum of $5,000 plus one surety of the same amount.  Orellana was able to meet bail and is due back in court on January 13.  

In the trial, Orelliana was represented by Carlo Mason and the prosecutor was Thalia-Megan Francis.