Deon Bruce was officially released from the Belize Central Prison this afternoon and is now a free man after the Court of Appeal denied the request from the United States for his extradition. The 34-year-old Belizean was in prison since May 2013 when he was first arrested for the extradition proceedings. Bruce is wanted in the US for his alleged involvement in the murder of Aaron Carter and the wounding of his friend, Bryan Rodgers in Chicago, Illinois in 2010. The court handed down its ruling this afternoon via a virtual session. Bruce was reluctant in giving us an interview but did designate his sister, Jerrilyn Bruce as his spokesperson. According to the sister the ruling was not surprising for them.
Jerrilyn Bruce, Sister: “I wasn’t surprised and he wasn’t surprised either because for the seven years or so both of us had very strong faith that he would be vindicated.”
Reporter: Now talking about seven years this situation came up 2013 when he was arrested what has it been like ? What has the entire situation been like for you and for him and the whole family ?
Jerrilyn Bruce, Sister:“It was really rough especially on my mom and I am just glad that it’s over with. He is like me we choose not to look back on it and just give thanks for where he is at now and move forward in picking up those pieces of his life that he missed out on. Currently he is with family and that’s where the love is so he is very happy right now. I don’t think he’s even focusing on that. Over the years whenever I was would visit him or speak to him he has maintained a positive attitude and his faith in God. Anybody can tell you that it was very expensive having to visit him, to let him remember and understand that we are at his side and there for him but at the end of the day everything worked out and I must say a huge thanks to Anthony Sylvester for the time and effort that he put into getting my brother free.”
Reporter: Now in terms of the legal feels would you be able to give us a range in terms of how much that cost the family ? An estimate?
Jerrilyn Bruce, Sister: “No I won’t be able to do that because it’s over a course of time.”
Bruce has had multiple legal representation but in 2017 Senior Counsel Anthony Sylvestre took over the case and had submitted the appeal to the court. WE spoke with the Senior Counsel who explained that Bruce had submitted multiple applications to the court.
Anthony Sylvester, Attorney-at- Law: “Yes that started in 2013. In july 2013 he was detained and the actual hearing took place in December 2013. In January of 2014 the examining magistrate ruled that in her view there was sufficient basis for the extradition.”
Reporter: And then came the appeal.
Anthony Sylvester, Attorney-at- Law: “Yes.What happened is that there were previous applications which were made to the court and those weren’t successful but in doing our research what we found is that the law doesn’t prevent somebody from applying to the court successively just like for instance if somebody applies for bail and is denied bail that doesn’t mean the person cannot apply for bail at a later point so the similar principle applies in a habeas corpus application and so that’s what we did, although he was not successful before in a previous habeas corpus application we brought this new one and that was brought in 2017 and in 2017 the new application we made these grounds and advanced these grounds and does come to the issues that there were some basis or merits in those grounds when it was made in 2017.”
Reporter: So now that the court has ruled in favor of Mr.Bruce is this the end of it or can US still insist on some sort of extradition ?
Anthony Sylvester, Attorney-at- Law: “Well in theory I suppose they can but I’m not sure of course that would be a question best answered by them but certainly in theory that’s a possibility.”
As we noted Bruce is wanted for crimes in the US. The backdrop to the story indicates that Bruce allegedly shot and killed one man and injured another after an argument escalated when a bottle was thrown at his vehicle. Bruce allegedly stopped the car, pulled a firearm from the trunk of his vehicle and fired at Carter and Rodgers. The incident happened on July 28, 2010.