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May 10, 2021

Calls for Death Penalty after Arson Murder

The death penalty conversation has once again surfaced, considering the recent arson murder.  Social media users are calling on authorities to take strong action against the killer.  Belizeans are advocating for life in prison or the death penalty. Tonight, we look at those social media commentaries.  We also take a look back on what has been said about the death penalty in past interviews Belizean officials.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

“Anchor him in the blue ocean” , “He need the electric chair, he have no love, monster”, “Those kind of animals deserve to be kill cas no jail penalty is enough”, “Cold hearted man”,  “If he guilty, bring back the death penalty.”  These are the responses across social media to news of the arrest of Demas Pinelo Mendez.  He is the man police believes is behind the murder of thirty-six-year-old Kendra Middleton and her three-year-old son Aiden Perez.  Many Belizeans are calling for him to face the death penalty.  But, Belize has not carried out any executions for more than ten years even though, the death penalty remains in law.  In response to news that the lifetime prison sentence of a convicted murderer was reduced to twenty years back in 2018, former Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte had this to say.


Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General [File: August 3rd, 2018]

“People want everybody to hang except their own children. Listen the law that we have is the law that we have and the powers given to the Chief Justice at this stage allowed him to do what he did. If a person is in prison for a certain length of time and the judicial bodies make a decision to release that person it must be with good reason. It’s not like we do not have hanging on the books. It is still on the law. It is still there but the C.C.J. decisions have indicated that those are reserved for the worse of the worse considered murderers. We have not met that legal bar according to the C.C.J. to this point but I am sure that if we do then we will proceed with what the law says but it is not like we have taken it off the books.”


In July 2015, the Supreme Court of Belize overturned the death sentence of the last remaining inmate on death row. To broaden the knowledge of Belizeans on the topic,a debate was held during International Museum Day in 2017.


Charlee Hutchinson

Charlee Hutchinson, Presenter [File: 2017]

“This is just a list of the nineteen individuals who were confirmed to have been executed here. We have Nora Parham; I am certain that most of you have heard the name before. She was the last female executed in the Caribbean and I believe the only female here. She was executed June fifth, 1963. And then the last being Kent Bowers; June nineteenth, 1985.


Shanidi Chell

Shanidi Chell, Crown Counsel [File: 2017]

“Section three of Belize’s constitution guarantees the right to life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law. Section four of Belize’s constitution states that a person shall not be deprived of his life intentionally, save in execution of the sentence of the court in respect of a criminal offense under any law of which he has been convicted. Section seven of our constitution states, however, that no persons shall be the subject of torture or inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment.”


This latest incident of double homicide leaves many Belizeans calling for stronger penalties. Persons want to feel safer in their communities and homes. They want the punishment for the crime commited to equate to the magnitude of the crime.


Michael Peyrefitte [File: August 3rd, 2018]

There is a lot of debate whether or not hanging or not hanging will be solving the problem, so it is a matter of opinion. I am not that aware that there are that many people that are asking for hanging. People will say that because it is just a knee jerk reaction to many things. But at the same time people say, hanging the prisoner won’t make a difference. Putting them in jail won’t make a difference. You need to improve education. You need to improve social infrastructure. So many people believe that there are many different solutions to the crime situation, and that is just one opinion. To me just simply hanging a person, won’t simply solve crime.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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