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Mar 5, 2018

Everal Martinez Faces Sex Charges Amid Protests

Everal Martinez

Seventeen-month-old Allyssa Nunez passed on Sunday morning, but from Friday, twenty-one-year-old Everal Martinez of Maskall was in police custody on a charge of dangerous harm. That charge has been lifted and he is now facing four counts of sexually-related offenses.  This morning, as Martinez was read his charges, the police barricaded the Magistrate’s Court for the first time in memory and kept a baying crowd of protestors from causing potential harm to Martinez. But the saga is just getting started as News Five’s Aaron Humes reports.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

Monday morning dawned with an unusual sight at the Magistrate’s Court: a score of police officers on guard and barricades around the front steps of the building and at the entrance to Treasury Lane, in anticipation of the arraignment of twenty-one year old Everal Martinez. An angry crowd of protestors, including members of Allyssa Nunez’s family, stood across Regent Street at the Battlefield Park, awaiting Martinez’s arrival. And around eleven-thirty, under a hailstorm of threats and imprecations, Martinez, represented by Oscar Selgado, was led into the court-room of Senior Magistrate Aretha Ford to be read four charges.

 

Oscar Selgado

Oscar Selgado, Defense Attorney

“This morning, Everal Martinez was arraigned before the Honorable Senior Magistrate with four charges. Two counts of attempted rape of a child; two counts of attempt, attempt – I’m saying it, I’m repeating it – attempted rape of a child. There was no rape of any child; it was an attempt, alleged. And two counts of attempted assault of a child; again, it was an attempt[ed] assault of a child. These were indictable offences and so my client was not made to plea. However, I am saying it categorically that I have taken instructions from my client and he did not commit these offences, or these atrocities, against that child. Moreover, I am informed by the learned Madam D.P.P. that there is another charge to be laid against my client, a more serious charge, which I think emanated from the death of the child, but that will come in the future.”

 

The future could be as early as Tuesday, according to Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal. It depends on the result of the upcoming post-mortem examination on Allyssa. But she loosed a shot across the bow of her police partners in addressing the substance of today’s protest, and especially the calls for justice by the maddened crowd.

 

Cheryl-Lynn Vidal

Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, Director of Public Prosecutions

“I find that a lot of times, what transpires during the course of an investigation, and then what later happens in the court is only looked at in terms of the performance of the prosecution, and not in terms of what has happened during an investigation. And I want to say that a prosecution is only as good as the investigation. So when we are out here, and we are clamoring for justice, and we are asking for an investigation and for particular charges to be laid – we also have to be putting the pressure where the pressure is due; not just on the prosecution, but on the police to do a proper investigation.”

 

The D.P.P. indicated that for various reasons, and because the charges are indictable and to be tried at the Supreme Court, Martinez was not set free.

 

Cheryl-Lynn Vidal

“We had, of course, intended to object to bail because of the seriousness of the offence, the likely sentence to be imposed, and the publicity this had garnered, which all go toward suggesting that he may not, later on, have submitted himself willingly to the jurisdiction of the court. But we were actually informed before court sat, by the attorney for the defense, that he would not have been making any application for bail, because he understood that the victim had passed away, and he anticipated that a more serious charge would be levied subsequently.”

 

Selgado confirmed as much, though he reserved the right to file for bail if the new charge is less than murder. He devoted much of his press interview to re-asserting the right of his client to be presumed innocent, and making sure that demonstrators know he has the right to a fair trial and to be treated fairly despite the monstrousness of the charges.

 

Oscar Selgado

“And contrary to what social media has been saying – ‘a child has been raped; a child has been carnally known front-way and back-way’ and all this foolishness – none of that has been happened. There was an attempt of these things and that is an allegation made by the Crown. And until that allegation is proven, my client is innocent, and he must be given that opportunity to be innocent and remain innocent until he is found guilty or otherwise. So that this thing in Belize about demonstrations that I am seeing happening, it is good because a crime like this cannot be tolerated at any level in society; but at the same time, we want to make sure that we have the right person arrested and charged.  It is no good right now, the public heralding death for Everal Martinez, when in fact he is an innocent person and the wrong person could be in jail while the guilty person walks the streets. So I am saying until the man is given a fair trial by an independent and impartial court, let us treat him as an accused person, merely a suspect person because that is what he is, a suspect in an alleged offence.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

Martinez returns to court on the eighteenth of May.

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