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Jan 21, 1998

Vasquez gets 2 years in death of Monique

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Vasquez gets 2 years in death of Monique

The preview of Justice Meerabux’s decision in the Musa case was not the only activity in the judge’s courtroom. This morning the atmosphere was tense as a packed house awaited the sentencing of Francis Vasquez in connection with the shooting death of his live-in girlfriend, Monique Emmanuel, last February. Originally charged with murder, Vasquez saw the charge reduced to manslaughter by negligence before pleading guilty on Tuesday to a lesser charge of death by careless conduct. After a brief summation by defence attorney B.Q.Pitts, Justice Meerabux sentenced Vasquez to two years in prison, the maximum the charge would allow. Accounting for time already served, the twenty six year old Vasquez will spend the next nineteen months in the confines of Hattieville Prison. Reaction to the sentencing from the prosecution was swift. Senior Crown Counsel in the D.P.P.’s office Marilyn Williams told News Five that crucial testimony by one of Monique’s brothers, which could have affected the outcome, did not materialize and that the whole case has left her with a bad taste in her mouth.

Marilyn Williams, Senior Crown Counsel

“(Sigh) Was justice served. Justice was served to the extent that we,m the members of the legal profession and the judiciary did the best that we can do given the restraints within which we were working. Was Justice served? Well, you know there are peculiarities in the law that perhaps may need to be revisited, so that justice could better be dispensed with.”

Q: “Francis Vasquez was originally charged for the murder of Monique Emmanuel. It got reduced to manslaughter by negligence and it went as low as death by careless conduct. Why? Wasn’t there enough evidence?

“It was changed from murder actually to manslaughter by negligence and this was done because there was no evidence to support a murder charge. To prove murder, one had to prove intent, which means in this situation the prosecution would have had to prove that when Francis Vasquez pulled that trigger that he actually intended to kill Monique Emmanuel. Because of the fact that this occurred in a bedroom where only Monique Emmanuel and Francis Vasquez were present, we only have two people who could say what actually occurred. Monique is dead, so we are then left with only Francis Vasquez’s account of what actually occurred.”

Q: “Judging from your reaction when the sentence was handed down and when you left the courtroom, I get the feeling that you’re not a happy prosecutor.”

“No I am not. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot I can do. Like I said, I have tried through much research this past couple of weeks, first of all to see if I could change the charge back again to murder. The evidence was not there. So then I had to stick with the manslaughter by negligence but that was also difficult without Ken Emmanuel’s testimony. Absent Ken Emmanuel testimony, I had nothing. Had I chosen to go forward, even with the manslaughter by negligence and Ken Emmanuel continued not to show up, then what would have happened, the judge would have dismissed the entire case and Francis Vasquez would have walked out of that courtroom a free man.”

Q: “What about evidence of prior abuse in the relationship?”

“The only evidence we had with prior abuse was evidence from Monique’s co-workers, who could only say what Monique told them. We haven’t had any person come forward and say well “I saw Francis beating Monique.” Legally that amounts to heresay evidence and would not have been admissible on court.”

While the case against him the death of Monique Emmanuel has ended, Francis Vasquez’s appearance in the courtroom is not over. He along with his younger brother Ian Vasquez were in the Belize City Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, to answer to charges of grievous harm and theft. The charges result from an incident around midnight Saturday, when the duo of brothers is reported to have attacked Frank Lopez with a baseball bat as he socialized at a Belize City night club. The Vasquez brothers are jointly charged for grievous harm while Francis is additional charged for the theft of a gold chain belonging to Lopez. They were both offered and met bail of eighteen hundred dollars each and are to re-appear in the Magistrate’s Court on March sixth.

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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