This afternoon twenty one year old Jafari Castro, twenty one year old James Young and eighteen year old Gilbert Franklin appeared before Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser who read them a single charge of harm. The three men are accused of brutally beating 21 year old basketball player Kevin Brown on August 6 while at the Banana Beach Resort in San Pedro Town. Brown was beaten so badly that he was airlifted from the island to the KHMH where he remained for a few days in a coma before being released. We have been following the case and our news team was out at Belize City’s magistrate court where the three men along with their attorneys Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley and Herbert Panton appeared before the Senior Magistrate. Senior Magistrate Fraser offered them bail in the sum of one thousand five hundred dollars each plus surety of the same amount. We were told that they met bail this evening. As they were exiting the courtroom, Castro’s older brother attempted to block the media from capturing the trio, demanding that the cameraman remove himself from the area. As you will also see, Castro also attempted to block the camera of the videographers before being stopped by a police officer. After the arraignment, Young and Franklin’s Attorney Richard Bradley briefed the media.
Richard Bradley – Attorney
“It is a single charge for all three persons that they caused harm to Kevin Brown ten days ago at night in La Isla Bonita which I understand Madonna and Beyonce have visited and it arose out of some fight between two groups of young men. What Donald Trump would call the fake facts from the police is that they looked surveillance camera but the words are the surveillance camera was viewed, they didn’t say that they saw anything on the camera because had they seen anything it would not have taken ten days to bring this single charge of causing harm. Now we will have to wait for the disclosure but we don’t know if it is three harm or one harm. The police are saying that Kevin Brown was hit with a fire extinguisher which caused him to become unconscious. This matter arose out of some dispute over jewellry I know because the family had shared with me that in fact Gilbert Franklin had a very expensive gold jewelry on his hand which somebody grabbed and it went missing and that may have been on the of the causes of the event. However they had told me that it is the other side which went to the resort which they were at and started what was a second problem.”
When police had announced that arrest warrants had been issued for the three men, they also mentioned that Gilbert Franklin would have been charged for aggravated assault since they believe that it was him who had hit Brown with a fire extinguisher. However, none of the three men were read a charge of aggravated assault. When we asked the police prosecutor, he told us that there wasn’t any charge of that nature. Bradley explained.
Richard Bradley – Attorney
““In the case of Gilbert Franklin it is fake news to say that they went and found him anywhere on Southside. The moment it came on the news that the police had decided that they would bring charges against the three young men Gilbert Franklin made contact with the police as well as James Young offering to go into the police station. They were told that there was no magistrate in the island of San Pedro and that arrangements would be made for them to come in at another day. However the police could not wait because I understand that they wanted to be on the news last night so they went and found Gilbert Franklin at his family home on Dunn Street and so they wanted to clear that up. It is a sad thing to see young people get into a fight to a stage where one is hurt that he has to be hospitalized and there is bad blood between young people because we want our young people to move away from that type of thing. This is a single charge of harm there is no aggravated assault with any weapon or anything; somebody hit Mr. Brown in a fight we will find who hit because the three of them can’t throw punches at him at the same time and the three of them can’t hold onto any firearm to hit.”
Police had indicated that Franklin would have been charged with aggravated assault because they believed that he was the one who hit Brown with the fire extinguisher but that didn’t happen.
Richard Bradley, Attorney at Law
“Well you will see, and the media were in the front row at the seat in the court and that there is a single charge of causing harm which under the criminal code of Belize I think it is section 79 carries an imprisonment term of one year in jail if in the unlikely event they were to be found guilty. Because if you are in a fight clearly what is involved in a fight is that I’m defending myself from being under attack from several persons who are a group you can’t commit no offence if you are defending yourself. In fact the laws of this country say you can kill somebody in defense of yourself or even in defense of another person as long as you don’t use excessive force. Clearly a man that only has a fist you can’t go kill him with a machete or a gun but if you are defending yourself you can’t commit an offence in the process.”
And after they were offered bail, Senior Magistrate Frazer set bail conditions. One of them was that they need to surrender any and all travel documents.
“Is it unorthodox that the magistrate place travel restrictions in a case such as this for someone who has been charged for harm?”
Richard Bradley, Attorney at Law
“Well as you would have heard her say and she emphasized it because in fact James Young doesn’t even have travel documents but she said to them that the news is saying, and we all know that there is fake news in America not in Belize you guys go out of your way to accurately report facts that is why would have me held up here but the magistrate who is in fact holding over as Chief Magistrate of the Country has said to them ‘the news is reporting whether it is true or not what I am going to do is order you to surrender your travel documents and you would need permission if you wish to leave the jurisdiction.” Now in the case of Gilbert Franklin and James Young they have no intention to flee the jurisdiction this matter has been on the news for many days they wanted to go they could have gone, James can’t go because he doesn’t have a passport but as a boat captain he knows how to find Miami so there is no risk of that happening but she said out of an abundance of caution and you all know the reason why the whole country’s media is that this matter is only on the news because my friend Minister Castro’s son his name is being called over and over that is the only reason. The other restrictions that the magistrate imposed are the regular restrictions; you are not to interfere with the witness in the matter and I would imagine that that cuts both ways because the families are making some complaints which I will not say here but it should be reciprocal in relation to that matter; but that is a regular requirement of your bail condition that you are not to interfere with witnesses so that is not an unusual matter in this case. They have gone before a magistrate who is extremely strict and we expected that she would attach some terms under the situation that this matter is bubbling in the news and there has been a fight and there is bad blood.”
During the arraignment, Attorney Herbert Panton who is representing Castro argued that the date for disclosure be within the maximum time frame. His argument was on the basis that police have enough evidence to proceed quickly to trial.
Richard Bradley – Attorney
“Well it is in the scheme of things, one single charge which would have to be supported by a medical report to say that harm has been committed on the complainant. So, in relation to that matter, I have not seen the medical report we have not gotten the disclosure as yet but October would be a reasonable period to at least have disclosure and the senior magistrate did make an order to the court officials that by that date we should be able to have disclosure but you would know that disclosure would depend upon the result of an investigation and in some cases police are always investigating because a witness may come forward or the surveillance tape when they look very clearly they might recognize that Aaron Humes was lurking around the area and might want a statement from him. So the court procedure has its own way of playing itself out but clearly the rules and regulations is and I think the Chief Justice had said this when you go and take a citizen and charge them you must be ready to bring your facts within a reasonable time and he has laid down actual time frames for disclosure for trial of inferior court matters as well as the Supreme Court matters so those are now requirements and the Senior Magistrate is quite aware of that.”
Kevin Brown is currently at his home in Camalote Village recovering. We are told that he is ‘coming around slowly’.