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Oct 5, 2021

Family Rejects Charges Against Trio Remanded for Murder at Sea

Three men were arraigned in the San Pedro Magistrate’s Court this afternoon in connection with this weekend’s shooting incident at sea that ended in the death of Jerry Espat. Twenty-two-year-old Pedro Tun, thirty-six-year-old Sergio Tun and thirty-four-year-old Gabriel Villafranco were remanded to prison until January fifth after they appeared before Magistrate Cristina Perera this afternoon. But their relatives are saying that the police have the wrong guys and they have the surveillance footage and receipts to prove it. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Police believe that Gabriel Villafranco along with Luis and Sergio Tun was responsible for the shooting at sea on October second in which the Espat brothers were ambushed by four gunmen on two separate boats. The incident which occurred at Cangrejo Caye, some forty-five minutes away from Ambergris Caye, ended with Jerry Espat being shot to death while several others were injured. Kirian Espat, brother of the deceased said that he recognised their attackers.


Kirian Espat

Kirian Espat, Shooting Victim

“I know dehn bwai. I see dehn. I grow up with dehn bwai dah San Juan and bally run with the engine and try run into me. He cut my diving pants with the propeller. Dehn nearly kill me. Dehn battle with me nearly twenty minutes and can’t. And dehn get frighten and dehn just take off and gone and lef my lee bredda di float up right dehn dead.”


Anthony Espat

Anthony Espat, Father of Deceased

“It’s friends from school when they were a kid. Friends from school; he tell them “Tush, why you gonna do me this? Why you’re doing this?  What I do you? What I do you Tush, what I do you?” they recognised them. They are friends from school. He called ahn by ih name and tell ahn why you’re doing this to me; we don’t do you nothing.”


The victims have since given statements to the police, in which the names of at least two of their attackers were mentioned. On Monday evening, three persons were charged: Gabriel Villafranco, Pedro Tun and Sergio Tun – none of these men, we are told, were those identified in the statement. Today, the families of the accused men, who were arraigned this afternoon, say that the police have it wrong.


Voice of: Relative of Accused

“The names that the guys called on the media is none of them. None of them are by that name and they don’t live in San Juan that the guy said.”


Duane Moody

“So your relatives are being targeted for no reason?”


Voice of: Relative of Accused

“Well that’s the way how we feel because they can’t split themselves in two; they can’t be at the store and then be where the incident happened.”


She says that she visited the police with surveillance footage from two different stores dated October second which captures the accused men inside the stores at the time when the incident purportedly happened at sea. But they say the police wouldn’t entertain them.


Voice of: Relative of Accused

“One of them went to buy a triple antibiotic at the Quality Poultry and the other one went to 77 Supermarket to purchase chicken cuts and some bedding stuff for my grandmother that is sick as well. I came to the police station and asked them if they wanted to see the footage so that they have proof that one was at Quality was at 9:37 and the other one at the Chinese store is at 10:12. The police refuse to take the footage and doesn’t even want to listen to any of us. I even showed him and he said he has footage as well.”


Like the Espats, the Tun and Villafranco families want justice.


Voice of: Relative of Accused

“They will be remanded because it is for attempt murder or cases that don’t have bail.”


Duane Moody

“So justice – that’s what your family wants?”


Voice of: Relative of Accused

“That’s what we want because then it is unfair. If the guys know who did it; they are calling names, why the police are making it and none of them by the name that the young man said, none of them are by that nickname.”


Duane Moody

“So what’s the next step for you guys?”


Voice of: Relative of Accused

“Well we got a lawyer and from there he is going to proceed with what’s going to happen.”


Duane Moody for News Five.


Villafranco was arraigned for murder, attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm and wounding, while Sergio and Pedro Tun were charged jointly for two counts each of attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm and one count each of grievous harm.

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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