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Jul 12, 2022

Wendell Thurton Jr. Pleads Guilty in Ian Blair Murder Trail, Set Free

Wendell Thurton Jr.

Twenty-four-year-old Wendell Thurton Jr. is free from prison after spending six years and six months on remand, following a 2016 murder in Belize City. Today, Thurton pleaded guilty to the crimes of abetment to murder and abetment to attempted murder in the January 2016 stabbing death of thirty-seven-year-old Ian Blair, and the attempted murder of Doctor Marcos Rugama on Simon Lamb Street. News Five’s Paul Lopez has the story.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Twenty-four-year-old Wendell Thurton Jr. is tonight a free man, after pleading guilty to the charges of abetment to murder and abetment to attempted murder. Thurton and a second suspect were jointly arrested and charged back in January of 2016 for the murder of thirty-seven- year-old Ian Blair, as well as the attempted murder of Dr. Marcos Rugama. The incident occurred on the morning of January twenty-seventh, 2016 at the home of Dr.Rugama on Simon Lamb Street. At the time, ACP Deziree Phillips, the then Regional Commander for the Eastern Division North informed us of what transpired.


ACP Deziree Phillips

Jan 27, 2016 ACP Deziree Phillips, Regional Commander, Eastern Division North

“Around one-forty-five this morning, police were called to number six Simon Lamb Street. Upon arrival, they were met by Marcus Rugama Miranda; he’s a medical doctor. He was observed with a single stab wound to the chest and he reported to police that he was at home socializing in the company of a friend Ian Blair and he went outside to the back door to pick in some clothing off the clothes line and upon his return he was met by two dark complexion male persons inside his dwelling. He reported that they had what appeared to be a knife and a firearm held at Ian. He quickly tried to ward them off by throwing different things at them and that is when he was stabbed in the chest. Ian ran to the bedroom; one of the male persons followed him in there and inflicted a couple stab wounds on him.”


Blair succumbed to the injuries he sustained. Shortly after the incident, police detained three men, including Thurton who was only eighteen at the time. Initially, Thurton and the three men were charged with four counts, one count of murder, in the alternative, one count of abetment to murder; one count of attempted murder, in the alternative  one count of abetment to commit attempted murder. In court today, Thurton pleaded guilty to the abetment charges. In his caution statement given at the time of his detention, Thurton told police that he was asked by two friends to give them a knife as they wanted to go on a move. He then got a pair of knives from his house and gave them to his friend. He admitted to following his friends to the apartment building of Dr. Rugama.


Marcus Rugama

According to Thurton Jr., he remained at the gate while the two friends wentinto the apartment compound.  While there, he reportedly heard screaming and left when he saw his two friends coming down  the stairs, one who was carrying a black TV and the other  carrying the knives that appeared to be bloody. Thurton said he then left the property with his two friends towards his home and while doing so they were detained by police. At the time of their arraignment on January twenty-ninth 2016, Amir Heredia the brother of the deceased Ian Blair was outside the Belize City Magistrates Court. He shared these words with reporters.


Jan, 29, 2016 Amir Heredia, Brother of Deceased

I’m here in front of the court because I want the justice system to do justice against these people that murdered my brother because I think that we as a family should unite and take this all the way until they make justice against them because we cannot bring back his life. Right now the whole family is still grieving. I don’t know any one of them but after investigations that our family had done, we got to find out where they live and a little background of them; that they are people that are in and out of the courts. If they have been in and out of the court, the justice system should be a little stricter with them and try to make justice because it is hard when someone lose their life innocently.”


All charges against one of the three accused have since been dropped. The third suspect has since been deemed unfit to stand trial and now awaits a competency hearing. Today in court, in considering a proper sentencing for Thurton, Justice Susan Lamb noted that in a similar case, a seven year sentence was imposed upon a man who was charged with the same offense. Justice Lamb concluded that six and a half years was an appropriate sentence. Justice Lamb, however, gave Thurton time served, which is exactly six years and six months, leaving him with no more time to serve for the 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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