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Dec 22, 2009

Lawyer questions verdict in murder case

A verdict that was handed down in a murder trial in Orange Walk is being questioned by attorneys. A jury of twelve deliberated for over four hours today to determine whether thirty-two year old Kenrick Williams is guilty of murder. When they emerged from their chambers, the decision was eleven to one, with the majority believing that Williams was responsible for the death of Elia Gonzalez. So Justice Herbert Lord set sentencing for January eleventh, 2010. Seems pretty standard right? Not quite. Because Williams was tried for murder, the law requires that the verdict be unanimous for him to be convicted because it is punishable by death. According to the Jury Act, even though the majority voted guilty, the jurors should have delivered a verdict for manslaughter if they could not be unanimous on the murder charge. Justice Lord’s decision to accept the verdict and set a date for sentencing is now being questioned by attorneys. The defense attorney, Phillip Palacio, would not comment and sufficed to say that they will take it up in court at sentencing. The murder took place in Libertad village in March, 2004. Gonzalez was only sixteen years old and attending the Corozal Community College. She was reported missing on March twenty-third and her body was found by farmers near the municipal water tank on a feeder between Libertad and Concepcion villages the following day. Her hands were tied, her uniform dress was hiked up above her waist and marks were observed on her neck, which suggested that she had been strangled raped. Williams denied any involvement in the crime, but police later found that he had sold a ring that belonged to Gonzalez, which was identified by her mother. The Director of Public Prosecutions’ office was unavailable, but a criminal law attorney told News Five that from his knowledge, there is never a verdict for murder that is not unanimous.

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