In 2010, attorney Richard Stuart and his wife, Maria, were viciously stabbed to death at their home in the West Landivar area of Belize City. This morning the prosecution in the murder trial closed its case against Eli Lopez Avila and Milton Maza after calling nineteen witnesses to the stand, including a DNA expert. The matter is being heard before Justice Colin Williams. In presenting its case today, the defense only called three witnesses. The first witness was Milton Maza who gave a testimony from the dock and as a result was not subjected to cross-examination. In essence, Maza said the police forced him to sign a confession. Meanwhile, Avila took the witness stand and denied murdering the Stuarts. He claimed that he was at home at the time of the double murder. Avila had an alibi, his common-law wife, Rumelda Reyes Lohan, who testified that Avila was at home with her and their two children. Oscar Selgado, the Defense Attorney representing, Milton Maza, spoke to the media after the court hearing.
Oscar Selgado – Defense Attorney: “Today is the closing of the case from both defendants and what will happen tomorrow is that the first defendant Milton Maza will serve a sit out for a bit because he did not call any witnesses in the case and so the second Defendant Eli Lopez Avila will give a closing submission to the court through his Attorney Mr. Leroy Banner and then the crown will respond by putting forward submissions in which it will assert that it has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt that in fact the first and second defendant did commit the offenses charged and then I will close responding to what the crown has said putting my case that in fact the crown has met the threshold, the crown had not adduced evidence sufficiently enough to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Reporter: “The defence has called three witnesses. Are you concerned given the fact that the crown called so many witnesses?”
Oscar Selgado: “I am not concerned that the crown called a long list of witnesses because at the end of the day the defendants had nothing to prove. The burden of proving the case relied on the crown throughout and the standard of that burden is proof beyond the reasonable doubt.”
As mentioned, Maza in his statement from the dock said that he was forced to sign a caution statement. Nevertheless, the judge ruled that the caution statement from Maza was given freely and voluntarily. Selgado will be addressing the caution statement in his submission.
Oscar Selgado – Defense Attorney: ”In my submission I will be making representations that even though the judge ruled the caution statement to had been admissible because it was voluntarily given he should now consider the other limb whether or not it is in fact true so did a caution statement emanate from my client? Yes but was the content of it is true, that is the other question that the judge and the court has to determine.”
The case continues tomorrow before Justice Colin Williams.