Constable Burton Caliz – Guilty

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 17, No. 5            February 1, 2007

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PC Caliz has been found guilty of manslaughter.

On February 12th, 2004, 23-year-old Leroy Pilgrim was fatally shot when on-duty Police Constable Burton Caliz tried to arrest him. At the time, police claimed he had a prohibited firearm.

    After being initially charged with manslaughter (the charge was upgraded to murder and then later reduced to manslaughter once more) Caliz was finally tried. In the Supreme Court, after a deliberation of approximately four hours, the eight jury members returned with a seven to one guilty verdict.

    Caliz had argued through his two attorneys, Dickie Bradley and Ellis Arnold, that the shooting was an accident. Prosecutor for the trial was Kamar Henry. According to sources, even though he is a convicted criminal, Caliz received special treatment from the officers working as court orderlies. He was smuggled out the back, so that he could not be photographed by the press.

    In an interview with Deona Pilgrim, sister of the deceased, she commented to The Sun that her family is looking for closure, “We were awaiting the trial for so long and now we can move on. Whether I believe that the trial was fair or not, I can’t say. All I can say is that God is fair. I am still coming to grips with it all. Leroy was so sweet and gentle. I am trying to forgive although I will never be able to forget. I am simply trying to accept the things that I can not change.”

    Sentencing has been set for Friday, February 2nd, 2007.
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