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IN THE COURTS: Men plead guilty to manslaughter, while villager busted for mahogany

Two men, 25-year-old Clive Geban and 21-year-old Roberto Rodriguez, who were charged with the murder of 61-year-old Ervin Morales, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter when they appeared today before Justice Colin Williams. Their sentences have been deferred until December 18 in order for them to prepare pleas for mitigation. Morales, a resident of Maskall Village, was found dead in his house by neighbors on January 19, 2013. Police investigation revealed that Geban and Rodriguez went to Morales’ house to rob him. When they found out that he was not in his house they hid under his bed and waited for him to come in the house. When Morales entered his house they attacked him with a machete and a knife and they inflicted multiple stab and chop wounds to his body. They then wrapped his body in a blanket and left him on the floor. Later the same day Geban went to the house of Orlando Gonzalez and told him what he did. Rodriguez confessed under caution to his participation in the killing. The following day, he took police to an area in St. Ann’s Village where he had stashed away the murder weapon. On the 21st of January, 2013, Geban and Rodriguez gave statements to the police confessing to the killing. On January 22, 2013, Dr Hugh Sanchez did an autopsy and concluded that Morales received 19 wounds and that he died from exanguination. Geban was represented by attorney Kathleen Lewis while Rodriguez was represented by attorney Leeroy Banner. Crown Counsel Janelle Thomas-Shorter represented the Crown.

Also in the courts, a farmer of Armenia Village was busted while trying to move some of our precious natural resources in plain sight.   Thirty-year-old Walter Salazar, a farmer of Armenia Village was charged with unlawful possession of forest produce and illegal conversion of Mahogany trees using a chainsaw.  He pleaded guilty to the charges when he appeared today before Senior Magistrate Aretha Ford. He was fined $10,627.50 for unlawful possession of forest produce. He was given until March 2nd, 2019, to pay. If he defaults on payment he will serve 1 year. He was also fined $500 for illegal conversion of Mahogany trees using a chainsaw. He was given until January 15th, 2019, to pay. If he defaults on payment he will serve 6 months. On December 6th, police intercepted a white Hino cargo truck driven by Salazar at the junction of Faber’s Road and the George Price Highway. The truck contained 153 pieces of Mahogany lumber which amounted to 1,771 board feet of lumber. As a result, the Forestry Department was notified and Salazar was charged.

On Saturday Police visited the Northern Fishermen Cooperative on North Front Street to look for firearms and drugs. The officers were investigating a tip that led them to a boat called Senor Caracol.   When they visited the compound, one of the two men on board the boat jumped out and escaped. The other man, (Mark Card, the boat captain remained onboard and while searching the vessel officers found a black bag with Bob Marley photo and inside they found 2.2 kilograms of cannabis. As a result, 52-year-old Mark Card was arrested and he was charged today with drug trafficking at the courtroom of senior Magistrate Aretha Ford. Card pleaded not guilty and he was offered bail set at $5,000.  Card’s case was adjourned to the 12th of February, 2019.