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Jan 29, 2002

4 youths guilty of grievous harm, not rape

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A verdict is in, in the trial of four young men charged with rape and other crimes of violence. Ann-Marie is just back from the Supreme Court with a report.

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting

After deliberating for four hours, a jury of seven men and two women returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty of attempted murder, but guilty of the alternate charge of grievous harm. For the charge of rape, all four young men: James Pelayo, Melvin Guzman, Ricardo Alamilla and Amir Sutherland, have been found not guilty.

After the delivery of the verdict, attorney Oswald Twist, who appeared on behalf of Melvin Guzman, put forward a mitigation plea to the judge for his client. He said, “Judge, I’m asking you not to give him a custodial sentence, but please impose a fine. A fine which he can pay, since he’s working in Orange Walk Town as a labourer.”

Oswald Twist, Attorney for Guzman

“I suspect that the judge will give them…I’m not trying to pre-empt what the judge will give, but I believe that the judge will give them a fine… That is an offence which could be tried in the Magistrate’s Court, and when tried in the Magistrate Court, the Magistrate hardly ever send anybody to jail for grievous harm. So I believe more or less they will be given a fine and not a jail term.”

Lutchman Sooknandan, who appeared on behalf of James Pelayo and Ricardo Alamilla, told trial judge John Gonzales the same thing. He’s asking for him to temper justice with mercy, in that Ricardo Alamilla has no previous convictions, but that James Pelayo has two minor convictions, one for common assault and the other for trespassing.

Lutchman Sooknandan, Attorney, Pelayo and Alamilla

“That these guys are young, they have no previous convictions, they are not hardened criminals, and this is their first offence. I hope he takes that into consideration and give their requisite sentence as he sees fit.”

Amir Sutherland also made a plea on his behalf, saying he is truly sorry for all his wrongdoings. Trial judge John Gonzales will tomorrow sentence all four men for grievous harm–a charge which carries a maximum of ten years in prison. Ann-Marie Williams for News 5.

Jurors were also empanelled this morning for the Ornel Welcome murder case, which is expected to start Wednesday before trial judge John Gonzales.

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