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Nov 30, 1999

Guilty verdict in Anna Lightfoot trial

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Fifteen months after British Raleigh volunteer, Anna Lightfoot was murdered in the Stann Creek District the trial for the men accused of killing her ended today in the Dangriga Supreme Court. The twelve-member jury found Alan Cal and Estevan Cho guilty and they were given a death sentence. Attorney Antoinette Moore says the defense is disappointed by the verdict which was returned in a little over two hours, but she expects there will be an appeal. The trial lasted about two weeks, breaking for the Garifuna Settlement Day holiday. Defense attorneys Simeon Sampson and Antoinette Moore presented several witnesses in an attempt to discredit the caution statements, or confessions, taken from Cal and Cho in September of 1998, just days after the murder. They argued that police had beaten the men until they confessed. Justice Sedi Elrington, however, decided to allow the jury to consider the statements. With no witnesses to the crime and the forensic expert unable to find any blood evidence on the clothing of the accused or the knife police entered as evidence, the confessions were pivotal to Director of Public Prosecution Adolf Lucas’s case. In a dramatic twist to the trial, Police Constable Jesus Canton was brought from the Hattieville Prison to testify for the prosecution. Canton has been charged with the murder of Daniel Tillett at the Belmopan Police Station on Independence Day. Anna Lightfoot, disappeared while returning to the expedition camp in San Pablo, in the Stann Creek District in late August of last year. After a frantic three day search by fellow Raleigh venturers, British soldiers and residents of nearby villages, her body was found along a jungle trial. She had been stabbed seventeen times. The postmortem conducted by Dr. Mario Estradabran indicated Lightfoot struggled vigorously during the attack. Police suspect robbery was the motive although the supplies she had just purchased in the neighboring village of Red Bank were found near the body. Two days later, Estevan Cho and Allan Cal, both from nearby Red Bank were picked up by police. Raleigh International has continued its many development projects which include building visitors centers at Belize’s national parks and helping to construct schools in rural communities. This evening Anna’s family in England issued a statement through the British High Commission saying they are relieved that there has been a “satisfactory conclusion to the case.” They say they are pleased that her Raleigh school project in San Pablo Village is complete and they thanked all those who searched for her when she disappeared as well as the authorities in Belize and management of Raleigh International. The death sentence was last carried out on convicted murderer Kent Bowers in 1984. There are currently nine men on death row.

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