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Jan 27, 2023

Manslaughter Trial Commences Against Former Police Corporal Accused of Killing Youth, Laddie Gillett

Laddie Gillett

The trial of Kareem Martinez, charged with the manslaughter of fourteen-year-old Laddie Gillett, began today before Justice Antoinette Moore in the Dangriga Supreme Court. Gillett was shot and killed on the night of July fourteenth, 2021 in Placencia Village. There are more than a dozen witnesses who will be called to give testimony in the trial over the next week. Three of them were called today, and News Five’s Marion Ali was in court and has the story in this report.

Marion Ali, Reporting
The police presence at the Dangriga courthouse, located on Sister of Holy Family Avenue, had heavy police presence in anticipation of the high-profile case of a fellow police corporal, Kareem Martinez, accused of fatally shooting Laddie Gillett, a fourteen-year-old youth in one of Belize’s prime tourism destinations – Placencia, on the night of July fourteenth, 2021. Martinez arrived at the courthouse at around eight-twenty, accompanied by a police officer. His defense attorney, Oscar Selgado, arrived shortly thereafter, followed by Martinez’ relatives. At nine fifty-two a.m., Justice Antoinette Moore called the court to order, and prosecutor, Javier Chan called the first of three witnesses to the witness stand. Scenes of Crime Technician, Pablo Mai told the court that he was asked to process the scene that night and that he found spent Aguilla brand nine millimeter shell and a bloodstained face mask which he later found out belonged to the deceased. Mai said the next morning, another officer who was on duty gave him a firearm to package as part of the evidence, and that he returned to the scene to take photographs. He said that on July nineteenth, 2021, when he went to photograph  Gillett’s body, he observed a gunshot wound that penetrated the left side of the back and the chest. Under cross examination, Mai agreed that in his statement to the police, he said that the area was dark and even windy.

Kareem Martinez

The second prosecution witness was Thomas Palacio, Gillett’s friend who had traveled from Independence to be with him that fateful night. They met up with a female friend and they went to buy food and ate before he and Gillett decided to head to the hotel where they were staying for the night. But on their way, they encountered two men in black clothing, got frightened, turned around and started to run. Palacio said that when he looked back he saw Gillett to his left, also running. He said someone struck him in the back with a hard, blunt object at which point he heard a loud bang, and threw himself to the ground. Palacio said he heard the men conversing and that he realized they were policemen when he saw their shirt markings. One of them stood over him with a gun, he said, and someone kicked him in the rib. He said that they detained him, and took him to the police station. Under cross examination, Palacio denied that he and Gillett were trying to illegally enter a property on the beachside and that a security guard shouted at them. He also denied that any of the men in black identified themselves as police while he and Gillett were running. The third witness today was Devon Castillo, a security officer who worked for a beach club on the peninsula. Castillo told the court that he was on duty on the night of the incident and that he saw three persons – two males and a female – acting suspiciously on the beach. He testified that they tried to enter the property illegally and that he told them the place was private property and that they shouldn’t be there. The trio ran off, according to Castillo after which he called the police twice before they showed up. He said he pointed them in the direction of the suspicious three and went about his duties. But he said he heard a gunshot and went to the area where the shot came from. There, he saw four police officers, three of whom he recognized, Kareem Martinez included. Present in the courtroom were Laddie Gillett’s grandmother, Lucy Fleming and his father, Emil Bradley, who told us they’re hoping for a guilty verdict, and a jail sentence, not a fine.


Lucy Fleming

Lucy Fleming, Grandmother of Laddie Gillett

“That wouldn’t be justice as far as we’re concerned, that he can walk away with just a fine, having been free these eighteen months while Laddie lies cold in his grave. So really at the end of the day, we would like to see him at least do some jail time, at least be tried and convicted for manslaughter. That is our hope.”


Marion Ali

I note with interest that the family has hired the services of a formidable defense attorney, Dickie Bradley. Can you say what his input will be during this trial?


Lucy Fleming

“Well I think he’ll be a guide actually for the attorney and for ourselves. He’s a very experienced attorney; he’s very wise. We’ve known him – with Richard Foster, he assisted us with that case, so he actually said, “Look, I’m prepared to help you and he came to us and did offer his assistance to us and we agreed that he would be the best possible person to have on our side at this point.”


Emil Bradley

Emil Bradley, Father of Laddie Gillett

“There are some concerning questions that his attorney, Mr Selgado has brought up. I know where exactly he’s trying to head and little things like these -  these little technicalities are things that cause them to get off, so I’m a bit worried, like I said. I see where he’s going. It’s young, but I see what he’s trying to get at. It’s so hard. We just have to wait until the end to see what exactly – it’s so hard to predict what will happen in these courts.”

The case is scheduled to resume on Monday afternoon. Marion Ali for News Five.

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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