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Feb 28, 2005

13-year-old charged with murder of 4-year-old

Story PictureWhen the decomposing body of four-year-old Oscar Velasquez was found on Thursday evening not far from his house in Belize City, it was assumed that a monster was loose in the southside neighbourhood; a deranged predator who perhaps lured the child into his confidence and then brutally ended his life. Tonight that description may indeed be accurate…but if police are correct, that deranged monster is a thirteen-year-old boy, who today was charged with murder. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods has been covering the unfolding story for a week and files the following report. Under guidelines agreed to by all major media houses, the identity of the accused will remain undisclosed due to his age.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
It has yet to be determined exactly why four-year-old Ocar Velasquez was killed. Unconfirmed reports reaching News 5 state that sometime on Monday, February twenty-first, Velasquez was in the company of the accused and another minor inside the house at number 7005 on Antelope Street Extension playing when it is believed things turned violent. Three days later Velasquez?s body was found inside this abandoned building in this unused refrigerator. The little boy?s hands were tied with a white
t-shirt and his head was wrapped in a long sleeve man?s shirt. An electrical wire was found around the neck.

Sister of the Accused
?I want to know if he do it or if dah no he do it. That is the only thing that I want to know because I no know nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.?

Carol Flores, Area Resident
?That is a good question. That is a good question. I cant say nothing.?

?That is a shock to me because when I gone up to CIB, I saw him up there and I ask him what gone on and dah weh you do and when was about to go talk to him that is when the police tell me I cant talk to him then because they want to finish get their statement and thing and thing right.?

Area residents say equally disturbing is that the minor was among the many spectators who had gathered outside the residence shortly after Velasquez?s body was discovered and witnessed its removal from the premises.

Carol Flores
?He was right there. He had the heart…if dah he do it…hmmmm.?

Carol Flores, who lives just across from the crime scene says the accused was a friend of her children and often played with them in the house. On Monday morning Flores says the minor came by her residence and gave her one dollar for jam but that he left shortly after and she did not see him again.

Carol Flores
?Everyday that little boy does go to my house, every day. Like you could say…all that was left was for him to bring his clothes them. But now, when this thing happen like I barely see him. I barely see him pitch round, I barely see him pitch round.?

On Friday, police detained the accused and his fourteen-year-old brother. It is not certain what the children told authorities but based on the information they received, the younger sibling was arrested and charged with the murder. This afternoon he appeared before the family court and then transferred to boot camp at Hattieville prison.

Jorge Velasquez, Father of the Deceased
?I didn?t know what to say or what to do at that time, no. So far I feel like I have to leave it in the good Lords hand because I don?t know the reason why he did it or what was in his mind at that moment.?

?The way how I see it I was thinking it was an adult and not a minor did it because of the way how I saw things, I was expecting it was an adult who do those things. It wasn?t that way. Everything was just another minor.?

Flores denies reports that she led police to the accused saying only that she believes her ten-year-old son, who does not live with her, may know something because he has reportedly been telling people what happened.

Carol Flores
?He must know something because they hang out together. They play in the yard, make their kites and fly their kites but he no tell me nothing concerning the thing weh gone on. It?s when the mother come tell me this morning how my son know something because he di spread it all about who did the murder.?

Both the minor and the victim are children from broken homes who have been neglected by their families and some would argue by the very system put in place to protect children. News 5 understands that in 2003/2004, the accused was a resident at youth hostel after he was charged with arson for a school fire. However we understand that the case was thrown out due to lack of evidence. Last October, the accused and his fourteen-year-old brother were attacked by a young man. While the younger sibling managed to escape his brother was badly beaten and left to die. Following his recovery the boy returned to his family who live in this one room plywood structure in the Antelope Street Extension Area. Neighbours say the boys are frequently left on their own. According to the accused?s sister, who does not live with the family, she knows her brother as a troublemaker but cannot say for certain if he is capable of murder.

Sister of the Accused
?I don?t know. I don?t know. I don?t know what to say. I can?t yes, I can?t say no. Because I wasn?t there to witness anything and I can?t say that I see even a hint because I never see nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.?

?He give a lot of trouble. He start to disobey my ma and only that. Otherwise than that he was normal.?

Carol Flores, Area Resident
?He like beat up my lee boy too. He like cramp up him pan his leg and bite up him pan his hand and thing. When I would go I would find ah di cry and ask what happen or what gone on.?

Equally disturbing is that one month ago the accused moved out of the family?s house and took up residence inside this small makeshift dwelling situated in his mother?s front yard. Neighbours say the thirteen-year-old boy not only built the structure but slept on this mattress and cooked his food on a one burner stove.

Sister of the Accused
?The he build that up by himself because he say he want to stay in that. The only he stay in there. He build it up.?

Jorge Velasquez says the arrest of the minor is troubling and was uncertain when ask the following question.

Jacqueline Woods
?If he is found guilty of this crime, what do you want to see happen to this young boy??

Jorge Velasquez, Father of the Deceased
?I really…well I really do not know what to say because it was an unexpected situation. I don?t know what to say. I don?t know.?

Today, Velasquez gives thanks to all those who helped him through the loss of his son.

Jorge Velasquez
?Thanks to everyone who helped me at that time. I thank Mr. Luke Espat and his staff, the printers from Angelous Press. I appreciate what they did for me and everybody who helped me in that moment. I also want to thank the community from Antelope Extension who helped me in the search and everything. It was good.

Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

Because of the age of the accused his preliminary inquiry took place in Family Court as opposed to Magistrate’s Court. The actual trial for murder, however, will be held in the Supreme Court and will be no different from any other murder trial, including the maximum possible punishment upon conviction: death by hanging. In practical terms, however, under recognised sentencing guidelines, it is virtually impossible that a thirteen year old defendant, if found guilty, would be sentenced to death.

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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