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Jun 7, 2018

Wilser Echevarria Guilty of Manslaughter in Death of Diplomat

Wilser Echevarria

A Belmopan resident has been convicted of the sensational death of sixty-four-year-old Panamanian diplomat Jose Rodrigo de la Rosa Stanford. But the verdict issued this afternoon by Supreme Court Justice Antoinette Moore stipulated that twenty-three-year-old Wilser Echevarria is guilty of manslaughter and not murder. In November of 2013, De La Rosa and Echevarria met in Belmopan at the bus terminal, where the diplomat invited him for a drink.  De La Rosa drove his SUV, with Echevarria as a passenger to the remote La Choza area just outside of Belmopan. When they arrived at the location, he started to make sexual advances on the younger man, which Echevarria says he resisted. Echevarria told both police and the court that while De La Rosa allegedly pinned him down in a choke, he saw a blade, grabbed it and cut the older man in the throat. He then fled and was picked up by police a day later with both the vehicle and De La Rosa’s cell phone in his possession in the Salvapan area. This evening, one of Echevarria’s two attorneys, Arthur Saldivar, explained to News Five how the judge arrived at her decision, and why he feels it necessary to appeal.

 

On the Phone: Arthur Saldivar, Attorney for Wilser Echevarria

“They found him guilty of manslaughter, yes, which is to say that the judge found that there was lawful justification for the harm to be inflicted. There were consistent statements, from the time of his arrest, all through to the time of his giving his caution statement, to his giving his statement in court, claiming that he was being assaulted by the deceased, and there were certain sexual advances that he had to fight off. He had the honest belief that his life was in danger, so this was what motivated him to take the action that he took. A boy of eighteen years old at the time – it must be understood that this was a person of tender age at that time; he was not a full-fledged, what we would call in Belize “hard back man.” This was a young boy that was basically facing a situation where he was being taken advantage of, or would have been taken advantage of, and he felt his life was in danger at the time, and he did what he believed he had to do to save himself.  The judge found that yes, there was intent, but there was lawful justification for that intent. You appreciate that?”

 

Aaron Humes

“I appreciate that, and in that instance it’s not murder; it would be manslaughter. That’s what I’m trying to be clear on.”

 

On the Phone: Arthur Saldivar

“Right, that is how it was pronounced, yes.”

 

Aaron Humes

“As you said, you believe there are grounds for appeal, so your client…”

 

On the Phone: Arthur Saldivar

“The basis for that belief is that again, it is for the prosecution to disprove any assertion of self-defense. Remember, under our law, under our system, there is no burden of proof on the defense. However, in the situation where a person is accused of murder, and he or she raises the defense of self-defense, which means that I am fully justified in what I did because I honestly believed my life was in danger, it is for the prosecution to disprove that. They have to prove that no, there was no basis for that belief, and if they don’t do that, then the defense holds. So the expectation was, from our side, the expectation was acquittal. But again, I understand and appreciate what the learned judge did; I respect the decision. And in these matters, where there are disagreements, where we can find issues of doubt, then we raise it to the next level, which is the Court of Appeal, and see if we can have the matter ventilated there, and a result more palatable to our position can be had.”

 

Justice Moore will sentence Echevarria on July twenty-second. Leeroy Banner was appointed special prosecutor and Echevarria’s other attorney is Senior Counsel Simeon Sampson.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Wilser Echevarria Guilty of Manslaughter in Death of Diplomat”

  1. truth says:

    I am sure the was a successful case because it was a diplomat. What about the Diplomat that killed the family on the western highway?

    how wreckless and shaming this world is.

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