Thursday, Nov. 26, 2014th
Wilser Escheverria, 18, accused of the brutal Sunday afternoon murder of Panama’s Chargé de Affaires to Belize, Jose Rodrigo de la Rosa Stanford, 64, has instead been charged with theft of the victim’s SUV and cell phone.
That is because initially, the police had charged him with murder, but the youth claimed he acted in self defense .
In accordance with a directive from Assistant Commissioner of Police to officers commanding the various formations not to consult with the office of the DPP before filing charges, Belmopan police proceeded to charge Escheverria with murder.
But under Belize’s law, the police must consult with and get written directive from the DPP prior to laying a murder charge against anyone who claims he acted in self defense.
Escheverria, a resident of the suburb of San Martin, Belmopan, had been detained since Monday evening and by Wednesday evening, was still not processed because of the confusion.
On Wednesday morning Eschevarria was escorted to the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court in handcuffs to be formally arraigned.
But he could not be formally arraigned at that point, since the Police did not have a written directive from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to proceed.
His attorney’s Dickie Bradley and Michelle Trapp-Zuniga argued that Escheverria could not be charged with murder if the DPP has not given her directive on the matter, given that the defendant claims self defense.
Magistrate Ford, after reviewing the section of the law governing that scenario, agreed with the defense and rufused to process Escheverria’s case with a murder charge.
The police prosecutor, meantime, informed that the police had in fact forwarded the file to the DPP and was awaiting a response from her. But the DPP got wind of this claim and took steps to notify the Magistrate that she had received no case file from the police and hence could not possibly give a directive about the case.
Magistrate Ford adjourned the matter and Escheverria spent Wednesday night in police custody until Thursday when he was arraigned for two counts of theft.
Police found De la Rosa’s body around 4:00 on Sunday afternoon. Cops observed that the fully clothed corpse had a cut wound to his throat and cut wounds on his face. His diplomatic vehicle, a white Nissan, was missing.
Investigation led Police to the home of Wilser Escheverria’s girlfriend in San Martin, where they found and detained the young man. Police later discovered the missing vehicle in Salvapan, a community adjacent to San Martin.
Belmopan police have issued no official statement, but police sources tell The REPORTER that the suspect has cooperated with investigators and has confessed to the slaying. But he is insisting that he acted in self-defense.
On Tuesday Escheverria’s 21-year-old girlfriend, who has a two-month-old son for him, claimed that the diplomat picked up Escheverria as he was shopping near the Belmopan Terminal.
The girlfriend said that De la Rosa took Eschevarria to a remote location, supplied him with drinks and then “tried to touch him in his private parts, and then the man took out his gun when he didn’t want it…and then he (De La Rosa) tried to rape him. And that’s when he (Eschevarria) saw a blade in his car and he cut him.”
Escheverria is remanded until January 27, 2015.