Acquitted of Murder of Andre Trapp Print E-mail
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Thursday, 21 February 2013 00:00

NicoliOn Friday, February 15th, 22-year-old Nicoli Rhys walked out of Supreme Court in Belize City all smiles after he was acquitted of June 10th, 2010 murder of Andre Trapp.

Rhys had his case heard before Chief Justice Kenneth. Benjamin, being the first man to be tried for murder in a trial by judge without jury.

During the trial, DPP, Cheryl Lyn Vidal called as many as 10 witnesses to testify in the case. In a one-hour summation of the case, the Chief Justice ruled that while there were elements of murder proven by the prosecution, the final element, that of the identification of Rhys as the shooter, was not proven giving great doubt about the guilt of the accused. He noted that while there was identification of Rhys by the Crown’s witness, who put him to the murder scene seconds after Trapp had been gunned down, there was no identification parade conducted by the police. In his sum up the CJ stated that “There was a loop hole in the prosecution’s case.” He further said, “The court must be extremely cautious before accepting the visual identification by PC Alrick Arnold since the prosecution admitted that there was no identification parade conducted by the police investigating officer, Sgt. Manuel Espat.”

The CJ then spoke of the fact that the defense attorney for Rhys, Simeon Sampson had urged the court to consider PC Arnold’s identification of the accused as a fleeting glance. The CJ agreed and said that, in his view, there was no mention made by PC Arnold of Rhys’ face being seen that day in his statement to the police, in particular, the investigating officer.

The CJ also looked carefully at the Forensic evidence before the court. The blue shirt, the black under shirt, the 3/4 black jeans pants and expended shells found at the scene which were tested by the Scenes of Crime personnel for gun powder residue, but none was detected.

SOC Brian Lopez had also testified that he swabbed Rhys’ hands for gun powder residue the same day of the murder but no gun powder residue found.

The CJ also stated that not one of the items which were tendered into evidence, linked anyone to the crime.

On June 10th, 2010, Andre Trapp had visited the court area for a case he had pending in Court #2.

From reports, he had just spoken to a very close friend, when minutes later, he walked away and was heading to his vehicle which was parked next to the court when he met his attacker. He was shot multiple times to the chest and to the back.

In June 2010, police had arrested and charge two men, Rhys and Alton Roches, a former BDF Soldier for Trapp’s murder. Roches was later freed from the charge of murder after the Belize City Magistrate’s Court received a directive from the DPP’s office saying that the charge of murder is to be withdrawn from him due to insufficient evidence.

That directive was given on September 31st, 2011, a year after Trapp’s execution- style murder outside the Belize City Magistrate’s Court.