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Joseph Vacarro Jr. walks free as murder case collapses

Posted: Saturday, June 15, 2024. 12:35 am CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: Joseph Vacarro Jr., a Belize City man accused of murdering a Chinese businessman nearly five years ago, is now a free man. Vacarro, 29, was released today after the prosecution was unable to proceed with the case due to the disappearance of a key witness.

Vacarro, then 24 and a construction worker living on Neal’s Pen Road, was charged with the murder of 28-year-old Zheng Cheng Liu. Liu, a businessman associated with the 88 Shopping Center, was executed near Mile 4 on the George Price Highway on November 23, 2019.

Following the murder, police arrested and charged Vacarro on November 26, 2019. During his arraignment before Chief Magistrate Sharon Fraser, Vacarro proclaimed his innocence, stating he was present at the scene but was not the triggerman. He accused two other individuals of lying about his involvement in the crime.

The legal proceedings dragged on for almost five years, culminating today before Justice Derick Sylvester. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) crown prosecutor, Riis Cattouse, entered a nolle prosequi, effectively discontinuing the case against Vacarro due to the unavailability of the prosecution’s main witness.

The crown’s primary witness, a male whose identity remains undisclosed, could not be located despite extensive efforts by the Belize Police Department. The witness is believed to be in hiding, fearful for his life. Despite the court granting additional time to locate him, these efforts proved fruitless.

Given the inability to produce this crucial witness, the prosecution had no choice but to discontinue the case. This decision was based on the belief that the witness is unlikely to be found, rendering the continuation of the trial impossible.

Zheng Cheng Liu’s murder remains unresolved. He was reportedly called to the scene by a friend who had encountered mechanical issues, only to be killed execution-style shortly thereafter.

Vacarro’s release marks the end of a prolonged and uncertain period in his life. He walked free today, nearly five years after his initial arrest, with the murder allegations against him unresolved due to the missing witness.

 

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