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Corporal Kareem Martinez’s trial commences in Dangriga High Court for manslaughter, but what will “justice for Laddie” look like?

Posted: Saturday, January 28, 2023. 5:20 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: On Friday, three witnesses were called as interdicted Corporal of Police Kareem Martinez went on trial for manslaughter in the courtroom of Justice Antoinette Moore in Dangriga.

Corporal Martinez is accused of shooting 14-year-old Laddie Gillett in Placencia in July of 2021 while responding to a report of trespass and attempted burglary at a beach club in the area.

The first witness was the Scenes of Crime technician who processed the scene and Gillett’s body, followed by Thomas Palacio, the young man who accompanied Gillett that night.

According to Palacio’s testimony, he and Laddie met up with a female friend and got food before they decided to head back to the hotel where they were staying for the night. On their way, they encountered two men in dark clothing and, frightened, turned around and started to run. As Palacio looked back to see Gillett running almost next to him, someone struck him in the back with a hard blunt object and at the same time, a gunshot went off. Palacio went down and heard some men conversing, realizing that they were policemen from their shirt marks.

Palacio further testified that one of them stood over him with a gun and another kicked him in the ribs, but neither identified themselves as police officers, but detained him and took him to the police station. Palacio denied that he or Gillett were trying to illegally enter a property on the beach side and that a security guard shouted at them.

The last witness was security officer Devon Castillo, who made the initial report of three persons, including a female, acting suspiciously on the beach and that suspecting them of trying to illegally enter the property, he told them that the area was private property. They ran off and he called the police, who showed up minutes later. He said he directed them to the area where he had seen the group go, then later heard a gunshot and responded, seeing four police officers including the accused Martinez.

The trial resumes on Monday under heavy police presence in and around the courtroom. Justice Moore has limited attendance in the court by both the press and members from each side’s family and banned recording devices.

The Crown is represented by Senior Crown Counsel, Javier Chan. Martinez is being represented by attorney Oscar Selgado. Noted defence counsel Richard “Dickie” Bradley is also a part of the case, hired by Laddie’s foster family to review the case and advise the prosecution.

And while “Justice for Laddie!” has been the cry of his family and certain sectors of society since the infamous incident, what will that look like?

Emil Bradley, Laddie’s foster father, and his foster grandmother Lucy Fleming shared their apprehension of the “little technicalities” as the former said that lead to reasonable doubt. The case is being tried by a judge alone, and Fleming said she hoped that the accused was handed jail time and not a fine (the maximum sentence under the law is life in prison but in practice, sentencing is lesser).

 

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