P. C. Lazaro Catch not guilty of Murder Print E-mail
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Thursday, 25 July 2013 00:00

Jorge Lemus and Lazaro CatchOn Monday, July 22, police officer, Lazaro Catch was acquitted in the Supreme Court. He had been charged in connection with the shooting death of Jamaican national, O’Neil Anthony Jones, who at the time was living in Lord’s Bank.

Jones was allegedly shot by a police officer on February 13, 2010. Catch was one of two officers who had been accused of being involved in the shooting death. In court on Monday, he was acquitted in the Belize City Supreme Court before Justice Troadio Gonzalez.

During the trial, attorney, Darrell Bradley was successful in getting the 30-year-old police officer off the charge of abetment to manslaughter in Jones’s shooting death.

On February 13, 2010, Jones was riding his bicycle when police were called into the area after a misunderstanding at Ruby’s Bar in the Lord’s Bank area. When they responded, they approached Jones who police claimed had in his possession what appeared to be a gun. It later turned out to be a tool.

A witness for the prosecution, identified as Lavern Stevens, who claimed that she was standing near the pan of the police vehicle, told the court that she heard a police officer tell another police to “shot that.” As a result Jones was shot once to the back.

According to police pathologist, Dr. Mario Estradabran, Jones was shot from the back and that he died from exsanguination due to internal and external bleeding due to heart injury as a consequence of a gunshot injury.

In court, Mayor Darrell Bradley, in is no case submission to the court, argued and submitted that it was very essential and important that the prosecution proved the crime was committed by the accused, PC Catch, his client.

But at the close of the prosecution’s case, there was no evidence to prove a prima facie case against PC Catch. He stated that the prosecution’s main witness, Lavern Stevens in her testimony only made reference to a fat policeman and a slim policeman but failed to identify PC Catch as one of those police officers she described.

Bradley also argued that the prosecution failed to provide evidence of death of the person known as “Jew”. He added that another witness for the prosecution identified as Nicholas Newman who had identified the body as that of O’Neil Anthony Jones made no reference to him being the same man known as “Jew”. Bradley concluded to say that there was no link of Jones being “Jew”. Prosecutor, Leeroy Banner conceded to that.

After the prosecutor conceded, Judge Gonzalez called in the 9-member jury and directed them to return a not guilty verdict against PC Catch for the offense of abetment to manslaughter and PC Catch was a free man.

PC Catch and Cpl. Jorge Lemus were both charged in connection with Jones’s death after the then Crown Council, Trienna Young of the DPP’s office had sent a memorandum to the police to arrest and charge both officers.

Earlier this year, Cpl. Lemus who was represented by Attorney, Simeon Sampson was also acquitted in the Supreme Court of Justice Adolph Lucas for the offense of manslaughter in Jones’ shooting death.
The scenario in his trial was similar to that of PC Catch; the main witness was also Lavern Stevens who referred to the officer who shot Jones as a “fat police” but she failed in that trial to identify Cpl. Lemus as the officer who fired the fatal shot.

With no evidence linking Cpl. Lemus to the shooting death, Judge Lucas had also directed a 9-member jury to acquit Cpl. Lemus of the charge of manslaughter in Jones’ death and he too was set free.