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Convicted Rapist Gets Second Chance at Trial

Thirty-six year old Antonio Gutierrez, who was convicted of rape and sentenced to eight years, was successful in his appeal today before the Belize Court of Appeal. The court quashed his conviction, set aside his sentence and ordered a retrial. Gutierrez was released on a bail four thousand five hundred dollars. Gutierrez’ attorney, Anthony Sylvestre, had appealed on five grounds. The appeal succeeded on ground three, which stated that the learned trial judge having exercised his discretion to give a direction for the need for special caution before acting on the evidence of the complainant erred in failing to give a proper direction to the jury in accordance with section ninety two subsection three (a) of the Evidence Act as to the factual reasons in the given case for the need for such caution. The Crown was asked if it can defend ground three and Crown Counsel Javier Chan, who represented the Crown, said it cannot. As a result, the retrial was ordered. Gutierrez was convicted of rape in Corozal Supreme Court on May 30, 2016. On June 7, 2016, Justice Herbert Lord sentenced Gutierrez to eight years. The incident occurred on August 12, 2011, in Orange Walk Town. The complainant was 16 years old. At the trial Gutierrez gave a statement from the dock in which he said the sexual intercourse was consensual.