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Feb 1, 2023

Court Visits Scene of Laddie’s Deadly Shooting

Closing arguments in the manslaughter trial of Kareem Martinez, a former Corporal of Police charged for the shooting death of fourteen-year-old Laddie Gillett, will be heard on Thursday before Justice Antoinette Moore in the Dangriga Supreme Court.  This follows today’s session that occurred inside, as well as outside of the courtroom when the judge, along with the prosecutor and defense attorney, the accused and several critical witnesses returned to the scene of the incident in Placencia. News Five’s Duane Moody reports. 


Duane Moody, Reporting

Today’s session began inside the courtroom as the final prosecution witness, PC Claude Augustine, was called to testify. He was the driver of the police mobile used to transport the officers to the Placencia Beach Club, where the deadly encounter occurred. PC Augustine said in his testimony today that he saw when Special Constable Michael Miranda and Police Constable Isaiah Pop caught up with one of the young men and then heard a loud bang. But there were some elements of his testimony that did not coincide with what other witnesses said transpired that night, including that he saw the deceased and his friend were standing near the building.


Emil Bradley

Emil Bradley, Father of Laddie Gillett

“Laddie is about five feet six inches the most. At that distance, the farther you are, the higher the bullet will be going so it is just a common sense. But yo might say dah fool the talk, but dah noh really fool the listen all the time. And these are the things weh really make yo get as a family, it hurts you to see the lie that they are telling. As a family it hurts you to see the lie that they are telling. Being on this spot, I wonder how they feel in their hearts knowing the lie that they are telling, you know. Look at this distance. Man Mister Selgado di try come with breeze and all kinda dehn thing deh about the place mi dark. Make it better if the place dark yon oh should fire shot cause yo noh know weh yo di shoot atta. So I noh know weh ih di get at.”


….and so to get a better understanding of what transpired, Justice Antoinette Moore took the court to the scene of the shooting. There, from 11:40 a.m. to 12:40 p.m., a walk-through was conducted and included key witnesses: security guard Devon Castillo who called police twice about men who were trespassing the beach club property several times; Scenes of Crime personnel Pablo Mai who processed the scene, discovering the expended shell case approximately twenty-five yards from where the suspected blood and mask, which belonged to Laddie were found. And then there was Thomas Palacio, Laddie’s friend who experienced the ordeal and is still traumatized by the incident. The session resumed inside the courtroom around three o’clock and what was said at the locus was recorded into evidence, including that there were no bushes that Palacio and Laddie were walking on a concrete path along a wooden fence when they saw two men in dark clothing and ran away from them. A loud bang was heard, Laddie fell to the ground and Palacio drops to the ground as well. He was assaulted about fifteen feet away from a mortally wounded Laddie.


Thomas Palacio

Thomas Palacio, Laddie’s Friend

“I ran her through our, well Laddie’s final steps. I showed her where we were, what transpired, answered her questions and that was that.”



“What were some of the more pertinent questions that you feel she asked you?”


Thomas Palacio

“I think it is when she asked me where we were, when the cops basically ambushed us, where Laddie was when he got shot and where we were before we left.”



“Do you feel like you were able to conclusively prove to her that some of these things that the officer said such as you jumping a six-foot fence or hiding behind bushes in fact never took place?”


Thomas Palacio

“Yeah I found that kinda funny, but I was quite happy to show her that wasn’t the case and I feel good about that.”


Emil Bradley

“They were hiding there behind the fence there, run out in front of the lee bwai dehn, noh halla no police you wah run. Dehn wah turn back fi run weh dehn come from. So that is exactly what happened. So dehn di talk about no light and it’s dark and all of that. But let’s just wait. I am satisfied with today and with the proceedings how it is going so far. Let’s just wait and see how it goes.”


Expectedly so, revisiting the scene was not that easy for Laddie’s family or Palacio.


Emil Bradley

“It’s a little bit difficult. I mean sitting there on the bench, reminiscing about the times we used to have there when we used to come down here together and playing the sea.  It’s hard, but I am glad that she came down because on picture it is so different. It makes a huge difference being on the actual area and the actual ground than seeing it on pictures. So she gets a clear view of how close it was, the distance and the bushes that they were claiming there was bushes, there’s no bushes for them to show because there wasn’t any bushes. What this does, it makes our case stronger and it gives us more hope. Even though I am sad, it brings back hurtful and joyful memories that we spent here together, but so far, I am satisfied with everything that’s going on so far.”


Thomas Palacio

“It’s always awful to think about it so to go there physically is ten times worst, but to me, it is something that I have to do for my friend, Laddie. The court has its system and I have to do what the system says. But it is also a way of me showing other people that this happened and we have to get justice for it. So it was mixed feelings, but I’m okay.”


Duane Moody

“Have you been back there since that day?”


Thomas Palacio

“I’ve been back there, but not to just go there. We’ve had vigils there before, I pass the beach club, I walk the beach a lot, but to go there go there, I don’t really go there too often. It is too painful to go there.”


The court session ended today with a new piece of evidence presented by Defense Attorney Oscar Selgado. That document is a statement taken from PC Claude Augustine on July twentieth, 2021 during an internal investigation carried out on the incident by the Professional Standards Branch of the Belize Police Department. That statement revealed that PC Augustine also carried his police-issued gun at the time of the shooting. So he will be recalled on Thursday. Of note, however, is that on Tuesday, Firearms Examiner Sherilee Lino testified that testing done on Kareem Martinez’s firearm, the shell casing discovered at the scene and the live rounds recovered were a match as it relates to the Bersa-brand firearm that was issued to the accused. Duane Moody 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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