Campbell murder charges withdrawn

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 17, No. 15            April 12, 2007

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Doug Campbell allegedly shot and killed his employee Danilo Villatoro. However, because of insufficient evidence, Campbell's charges were withdrawn.

On February 2nd, 2006, Doug Campbell was drinking with friend Danilo Villatoro. What transpired in the following hours threw Campbell into a legal whirlwind which culminated on April 11th, 2007 when after a presentation by his attorney, Campbell’s murder charge was withdrawn.

    On that fateful day, officers from the San Pedro Police Department responded to a call from Campbell’s neighbors around the midday hour when they heard what seemed like gunshots. Officers arrived at the Tres Cocos residence where they discovered both men in the living room suffering from gunshot wounds. Villatoro was already dead sitting on a sofa with a single gunshot wound to his left ear. Campbell, unconscious, but still alive, was sitting on a sofa opposite Villatoro. A .38 handgun, with two spent shells from the cylinder, was discovered on the floor next to Campbell. Between the two, atop a center table, were a bottle of rum and a bottle of juice. Campbell was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital via air ambulance where he remained in a critical condition.

    After being released from the hospital, Campbell was arrested and charged for murder, (2) counts of possession of unlicensed firearms (a 16-gauge shotgun and a.38 rifle) and (2) counts of possession of ammunition (65 live rounds for the 16-gauge shotgun and 53 live rounds of .38); he was remanded to Hattieville Prison awaiting his court case.

    However, on April 10th, 2007, the San Pedro Magistrate’s Court received notification that Campbell’s charge for murder be withdrawn. According to Magistrate Earl Jones, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Office stated that DPP Lutchman Sooknandan did not find any evidence to support the murder charge from the file and evidence presented to him The DPP’s office stated that not enough prima facie was presented and as such the case was dismissed.

    However, according to Inspector Sabal of the San Pedro Police Department, a Coroner’s Inquiry will be conducted on the Campbell case. A coroner’s inquiry is a judicial inquiry or official examination before a jury in case of a sudden death which is not of natural causes. The person to conduct such an inquiry would be Magistrate Earl Jones who told The San Pedro Sun that as of press time, his office had not received instructions to carry this forth. The jury should be comprised of not less than three but not more than five people which are tied to the case. If after the inquiry, Campbell is found guilty, Magistrate Jones has the power to re-arrest and charge Campbell for the murder of Villatoro or any charges that he may see fit.

    As for the other two charges, Campell was granted bail of $5,000 which he met and his case was adjourned until May. Police said that both, 39-year-old Villatoro and U.S. national, 66-year-old Campbell had been having marital problems and both their wives had left the men. According to neighbors, both men were known to be heavy drinkers and Campbell had threatened to take his own life on several occasions. Officers ruled out the possibility of a robbery as Campbell’s house was intact and nothing had been taken.
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