Death in San Pedro has community in shock

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 19, No. 27            July 16, 2009

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Alejandro Uck, deceased.

Enrique Peña was originally charged with manslaughted but later freed of all charges.

The community of San Pedro is still shocked over the death of a man that occurred over the weekend. The person has been identified as 29-year-old Hotel Manager Alejandro Uck, originally from Succotz Village in the Cayo District.

        According to Investigating Officer Sergeant Paulino Reyes, at about 1:10 on Saturday morning, police got information of a brawl on San Pedrito Walk Street in the San Pedrito Area of San Pedro Town. When Police arrived they found a man, only clothed with a short blue pants, lying on the street apparently under the influence of alcohol and complaining of pain. According to the official police report, “besides from a bleeding upper lip and other minor abrasions on his back no other external injury was observed on him.” The man, who was identified as Uck, the Manager of Conch Shell Inn, was taken to the station. After being inspected by officers at the police station, it was decided to contact Doctor Otto Rodriguez. Officers took Uck to the San Pedro PolyClinic but Uck died hours later at about 4:20 a.m. while undergoing treatment.

        Initial investigations revealed that at about 1:00 a.m., two men visited the apartment of 42-year-old building contractor Enrique Peña who recognized both men as being close friends of his. According to Peña one of the men, police have not released his name, was inquiring about a camera chip Peña had borrowed earlier. Peña allegedly told the man to return during the day because he (Peña) was with his wife and that it was too late and dark (due to the nationwide blackout) to be disturbing the peace. At that time, Peña claimed that the second person identified as Uck allegedly stormed into his apartment and a struggle ensued. According to Police, both men were separated by their friend and Uck was escorted out of the yard. Outside on the street, a second fight described by police as being a fist and wrestling fight initiated between Uck and Peña. It was during that fight that police were called in but when they arrived the fight was over. “Police found Uck lying on the ground complaining of pain,” stated Sergeant Reyes adding that, “all we observed was one injury, more like a burst lip, to his mouth area.” Reyes stated that because it was a fight and Uck was complaining of pain, he (Uck) was taken to the Police Station until the doctor was notified and taken to the PolyClinic.

        As a result of the incident, Police picked up the person who was with Uck at time of the incident and Peña as part of the investigation. According to Reyes, because both Peña and the third person in question are corroborating with the investigation, police released the third person but charged Peña for a single count of manslaughter while they waited the results of a Post Mortem Examination.

        A post mortem examination was conducted on Uck on Monday, July 13th which revealed that he died from acute pulmonary edema (excess fluid in his lungs) and acute general visceral congestion (swollen body organs). Dr. Mario Estradaban who conducted the examination ruled that none of the minor injuries sustained by Uck contributed to his death. Based on the results of the post mortem examination the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed the Police to drop the manslaughter charges against Peña because there was no evidence to suggest that Uck was beaten to death. Police investigation has concluded, however, Uck’s family may ask for a Coroner’s Inquest.
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