Cop found guilty of killing a man
On Monday, September 30th, a jury of 7 women and 2 men found police constable, Burton Caliz, guilty of manslaughter by negligence. They had deliberated on and had found him not guilty of manslaughter however they found him guilty of the alternate charge of manslaughter by negligence.
Burton Caliz is out on a reduced bail of $4,000 which was granted to him by Justice Gonzalez. Sentencing is set for Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 9:15 a.m., when mitigation pleas will be heard on his behalf.
PC Caliz's trial began on September 18, before Justice Troadio John Gonzalez in the Belize City Supreme Court.
Caliz is a police officer who has been on interdiction since Februray 12th, 2004 when he was charged for the killing of Leroy Pilgrim on the island of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. He was initially charged with manslaughter back in March 2004, but on indictment on June 21, 2005, he saw the charge upgraded to murder and his $8,000 bail granted to him by the court was revoked. He was then remanded to prison. He was later tried and found guilty of manslaughter on March 21, 2007 and was sentenced to 10 years. That conviction would later be overturned by the court of appeal and a retrial was ordered.
Pilgrim was shot and killed by Caliz while he was on duty. Police claimed that the decease had a gun and struggled with PC Caliz during which time he was shot to the back of the head. At the time of the incident, PC Caliz was armed with a firearm, a service issued .38 that belonged to another police officer, Cpl. Vidal Cajun.
In court Sanjay Pilgrim, brother of the decease, testified that on the day of the killing at about 10:00 p.m., he and his brother, Leroy, were in the San Juan area of San Pedro. He was inside a boat having just come on land to dock. Two police officers, Cpl. Vidal Cajun and PC Burton Caliz, arrived shortly thereafter in separate gulf carts. According to Sanjay, both officers approached his brother and searched him. Cpl. Cajun then went to the boat where he was and spotted a flashlight on him. A third man who was also in the boat and identified only as "Sugar" jumped out of the boat into the lagoon. According to Sanjay, PC Caliz then took his brother, Leroy towards the water's edge and placed a firearm to his head. He then pushed Leroy into the water and shot him once to the back of the head.
In his dock statement, PC Burton Caliz, who was represented by Attorney Dickie Bradley, told the court that, “after Cpl. Cajun finish search Leroy Pilgrim, Cajun left Leroy in my custody and went to the water edge with his flashlight, where he spotted Sanjay Pilgrim and searched him. Then PC Cajun called out for me to bring Leroy Pilgrim to the water edge and keep the two and continued with his search and that’s when Cpl. Cajun found a 9 mm firearm. I then advised Cpl. Cajun to be on the alert. According to PC Caliz, that’s when Cpl. Cajun gave him his police issued service revolver, a .38 firearm, because according Leroy Pilgrim began to behave in an aggressive manner shouting out, “The gun is not for me. Uno nuh wah plant it on me. Uno done search me ah nuh find nothing.”
According to PC Caliz, that’s when he held on to Leroy Pilgrim's shirt and he had the service revolver that Cpl. Cajun had given him in his hand when Leroy Pilgrim pulled him into the water. Both of them fell into the water during which they became invovled in a struggle and the firearm went off.
During the trial, the prosecutor, Leeroy Banner, was unable to produce any gun in question.
On the night in question, Cpl. Vidal Cajun and PC Burton Caliz were investigating the theft of a golf cart.
Caliz was only 19 when he was first charged with murder. He served a total of 3 years behind bars. 1 ½ years when he was first charged and then another 1 ½ years after he was found guilty of manslaughter before he won his appeal.