Two Men Acquitted of Murder in Stann Creek Print E-mail
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Thursday, 22 May 2014 00:00

Adelso Picon Rodriguez and Nilo Morales Valdez have been acquitted of the murder of Valentin Duarte which occurred on March 19, 2010 in Cowpen Village, Stann Creek District.

Duarte was shot on March 19, 2010, and later succumbed to his injuries on March 24, 2010. Rodriguez and Valdez were later arrested and charged for his murder. In court, Senior Crown Counsel Linbert Willis prosecuted the case before Justice Denis S. Hanonmansingh in a trial by judge without jury. Willis called 8 witnesses to testify in the murder trial. 

The main testimony in the trial was that of the deceased’s wife, who was the only eye witness to the murder. Duarte’s wife did not give the police a proper description of the men she claimed killed her husband. Allegations are that there was a third man but Duarte’s wife made no mention of who that person was. The only two she tried to describe were the two accused men, Rodriguez and Valdez, whom she gave a vague description of, saying that the men spoke Spanish, one was of Mayan descent, the other was shorter and Mestizo. She had attended an identification parade and picked out the two accused men. However, in re-examination during the trial, she told the court that when the two accused were arrested the police showed her a picture of Adelso Rodriguez and told her his name. With that, Michelle Trapp-Zuniga, attorney for Adelso Rodriguez, argued that the identification was flawed. The two accused gave caution statements but none of them implicated themselves in the murder. They merely stated that they went to the shop to see the deceased because he was selling a land and they wanted to see the land.

The judge accepted the no case submission made on behalf of Adelso Picon Rodriguez as well as one made by attorney Jeremy Courtenay for Valdez in relation to the flawed identification; therefore, both accused were acquitted of the charge of murder.