Oscar Selgado Convicted of Murder Abetment: Attorney Appeals Verdict

Oscar Selgado Convicted of Murder Abetment: Attorney Appeals Verdict

On March 8, seasoned defense attorney, Oscar Selgado was convicted of abetment to commit murder in the Belize High Court. Several prominent attorneys have commented on the verdict, calling the matter unprecedented for the legal profession in Belize. And while the court had set the month of July for his sentencing hearing, Selgado wasted no time in filing an appeal with support from his colleagues at the Association of Defense Attorneys. Attorney Michelle Trapp says she won’t be the one to defend Selgado in court, but she is a member of the team and has read the judgment handed down by Justice Nigel Pilgrim as many as four times. Trapp says that the official transcripts have not been released for the trial, but based on the judgment, she feels that Selgado did not have a fair trial for several reasons. One of those reasons was the admission into evidence of the witness statement by Giovanni Ramirez, the man who told police Selgado hired him to kill Marilyn Barnes back in 2019. The statement was allowed on the grounds that Ramirez claimed to be in fear that Selgado would have him killed. Attorney Trapp says that admitting just Ramirez’s statement as evidence means that he could not be cross-examined.

Michelle Trapp, Attorney: “When that was done what it meant for the defense is that there would not have been a position to cross examine. Mr.Ramirez in particular not in a position to cross examine Mr.Ramirez as it relates to whether or not what he said in his statement that he claimed to be untruth. He said he untruthfully told Oscar Selgado that his girlfriend who he said is Chester Williams’ niece heard one of the recordings that he made of this conversation he and Oscar was having in regards to the plot to kill Ms.Marilyn Barns. So no cross examination took place which means no opportunity to cross examine on whether or not that is true or not and what of that statement is true. That he has a girlfriend, if that is true or not. That if you have a girlfriend that the girlfriend is Chester’s niece for real or that the girlfriend listened to the video. So to me that was a bit ambiguous as to what is the untruth in that statement.”

Trapp added that the admission of the statement without the ability to cross-examine the witness raises questions about the authenticity of the recording itself.

Michelle Trapp, Attorney:  “I also want to say why I believe he never had a fair trial given the fact that if you’re going to record a phone conversation you would have known that ahead of time. Known it ahead of time to ensure that the whole process was fair, fair to all parties. I’m saying that to mean that no JP was present to ensure that these recordings came about by an authentic means, that it wasn’t a performance from Mr.Ramirez, that there was no “stop wait, say it again.” kind of thing when you’re recording. And there wasn’t any presence or involvement of defense counsel not to question but just certainly to just sit back and listen to ensure that the process of this recording. The importance of that recording was because given him being adamant that he’s not going to come to court and testify because he’s fearful for his life which the court accepted and allowed the statement to be tendered meant that defense counsel would not be in a position to cross examine him. But it also meant that defense counsel is not in a position to say whether or not these three recordings that led to the statement being admissible into evidence were done by just a natural phone conversation and there wasn’t any prompting.”

Trapp said she spoke to Selgado as recently as last week and at the time he had still not received the trial transcripts. We’ll keep following this story.

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