There were two murders in August in Belize; that’s the fewest homicides in any month since 2009. But, September started out badly in the Belmopan area where there were two murders in 24 hours. The only good news coming out of the story is that Belmopan police have displayed impressive investigative work solving both murders in quick time.
Today, 7News went back to Belmopan where 4 people were arraigned in connection with the killing of former KTV Latino Champion Daniel Aguirre. As we found out, it was an unusual arraignment where protestors waited in the rain to make their presence, and their anger felt:
Daniel Ortiz reporting
Today, members of the Belmopan community gathered en masse in front of the Magistrate's Court, eager to see for themselves who police charged, and to witness their arraignment.
Even in the steady drizzle, they waited alert, umbrellas at the ready and placards in hand, staging an impromptu demonstration.
But it was a protest for which they didn't get the proper permits, so, police arrived shortly to make sure that if they intended to stay, they would have to obey rules.
One of those rules were that the crowd had to move a short distance away so as to not disturb the court, and to ensure the safety of the
4 accused persons as they were being transported to and from the court room.
But even that didn't quell the slowly simmering anger and grief from the 100 relatives and friends of the missing Daniel Aguirre, who is believed to have been killed and then set on fire to try to hide evidence.
Anna Victoria Aguirre - Sister of Daniel Aguirre
"It hurts me because of what the man did to him, I can't talk - make her talk."
Veronica Aguirre - Daughter of Daniel Aguirre
"He's my father and we're here in front of the court - all we are asking for is that justice is done for this crime. It's not the first taxi driver; there have been several taxi drivers. We're asking for justice, all of these people are out here for them to hear our voices and for them to hear our prayers that we need to get justice out of this - this can't stay like that, all I have to say is that we need to do something about this."
Anna Victoria Aguirre
"I went up the street to see the car and it looked bad and it still had pieces of meat and bone. I want this man dead just like my brother or I want them to condemn him forever and don't let him come out never, never, never!"
And while the family wants swift justice, Belmopan Police have to afford the accused persons due process and their day in court, but compelling evidence against the accused has been produced.
ASP Sinquest Martinez - OC, Belmopan Police
"The investigation still continues, we made progress so far in the investigation of the body that was found in Pook's Hill on last Saturday that we suspect to be Daniel Aguirre. We have recovered the murder weapon, we have recovered his firearm. The firearm was recovered on Monday night in Teakettle Village and likewise the weapon was found on Tuesday in Teakettle Village at one of the suspect's sister's residence in that village. All four persons have been taken to Magistrate court earlier today."
Of those 4 persons is 29 year-old Noel Alexander Torres, seen here in orange, who is Belize City resident. He pleaded guilty to firearm possession, ammunition possession and handling stolen goods, telling the court that he alone was responsible for the firearm being stashed at the house in Teakettle, and that the other defendants had no knowledge of what he had done.
So, he will get jail time for this weapon, connected to this case, which the police are very confident they will get the green light from the DPP to lay a murder charge.
Of interest also is that Daniel Aguirre was a very good friend to the recently deceased taxi driver, 45 year-old Jose Marin Umana Aguilar, who was found dead in July.
Today, his family told the media that based on circumstances; they believe that the two cases are closely connected.
Lucia Aleman - Wife of Jose Aguilar
"This person that did this to him is the same person that did to my husband too because it is the same direction that they took this car, is the same they took the other one. I think this is the same person, Umana's one - the people don't want to talk and the same thing with this man - they don't want to say anything."
So, while the connection is something that police have to look into, the grieving members of the Belmopan community say that the killing is a betrayal of innocence.
Anna Victoria Aguirre
"He didn't do anything to anybody, he was working hard that night to maintain his family- this isn't correct how they killed my brother. I need for the Magistrate to do something, please."
ASP Sinquest Martinez
"We're just doing what needs to get done and for people to continue to have confidence in my administration likewise and for us to work together."
This evening, a post-mortem was conducted on what is believed to be Daniel Aguirre’s body and at this hour the results have not been released to the media as yet.
As noted in the story, the firearm which police recovered was that of Daniel Aguirre, which was reported stolen from his vehicle, which was found with the extensively burnt body.
According to police 29 year-old Noel Alexander Torres, a resident of Antelope Street Extension in Belize City, took them to the Dominguez residents in Tea Kettle on Monday. There, he showed them where he stashed Aguirre’s stolen 9mm pistol near an outdoor latrine.
As a result, police arrested and charged Torres along with 41 year-old Blanca Dominguez, 49 year-old Miguel Dominguez and a 16 year-old minor with keeping unlicensed firearm and keeping unlicensed ammunition. Torres was additionally charged with handling stolen goods.
All 4 were arraigned before Magistrate Aretha Ford today where Torres pleaded guilty to all charges. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison for the firearm, 5 years for the ammunition, and 1 year for the handling stolen goods. He will only spend 5 years because all sentences are to run concurrently.
The other 3 defendants were remanded, due to the nature of the offenses, to prison until December 12, their next court date.