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Jun 9, 2014

Court of Appeal orders a retrial for accused murderer, Krismar Espinosa

Hubert Elrington

The second sitting of the Court of Appeal for this year was held today and the bench, which included President Manuel Sosa, Justice Minnett Afiz-Beltran and Justice Samuel Awich, handed down a significant decision in favor of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.  The D.P.P., Cheryl Lynn Vidal, appealed for a leave of stay in the murder case of twenty-five-year-old Krismar Espinosa. He was acquitted of the murder of twenty-one-year-old Keon Swaso, a former inmate of Tango Eight at the Belize Central Prison.  Swaso was stabbed twice while inside the cell allegedly by Espinosa. A retrial in the matter has subsequently been ordered.  Following the decision, attorney Hubert Elrington told the media that the case may very well be elevated to the Caribbean Court of Justice.

 

Hubert Elrington, Attorney for Krismar Espinosa

“The D.P.P. had appealed, we did not appeal, we were the respondents.  We had won the, or my client’s attorney had won the decision in the court below but the D.P.P. appealed on the ground that the trial judge wrongly refused to allow the case to go on, on the grounds that there was not sufficient evidence to identify the defendant in that case as the person who had committed the crime, that was alleged in the indictment.  We thought that the judge, the learned trial judge Mr. Gonzalez had quite rightly withdrawn the case from the jury but the Court of Appeal had now decided that he ought not to have withdrawn the case before the jury on the grounds that the evidence was, the connecting evidence was there and that he should have left the case for the jury to decide.  So they have ordered that there be a retrial in the matter.”

 

Reporter

“Can you comment briefly on what was the ruling of the judge back in 2012?”

 

Hubert Elrington

“Well basically that the prosecution had not brought evidence that they needed to bring, that they had failed and I think he was strong in his decision, that they had failed to bring proper evidence to the court and he could not direct the jury on the basis of that evidence that there was a case for the accused to answer.  But it’s all technical, legal issues that were raised.  Very technical, very legal issues, so it might have to go to the CCJ to have a final resolution as to what needs to be done in cases like these.”

 

Krismar Espinosa, despite walking away from Swasey’s murder back in 2012, was not allowed to be set free since he was already on remand for another murder, the brutal slaying of his girlfriend in Orange walk.  Allegations are that he took a cement block and bashed her in her head, killing her.  In the first trial, the crown’s two man witnesses both initially had told police that the person who was seen motioning a punch to the deceased was Espinosa. In testimony, one of the witnesses told the court during the trial that he had contact with Espinosa for an hour and a half the day of the murder and that between nine-thirty-five and nine-forty-five a.m., he saw Espinosa when he punched the accused. A few minutes later, Swasey had been stabbed.  And while he had identified Espinosa as the man who he had seen, under cross examination, the witness told the court that in fairness of the deceased and accused, he was not sure now if it was Espinosa, who he had seen back in 2009. This he says is because the incident happened within a split of a second.

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