Last year on January 30th, 2009, John Saldivar lost his life – murdered on North Ambergris Caye. His body, with gunshot wounds, was found approximately 16 miles north. Officers conducted a search in the area and discovered a 9mm Glock pistol along with a magazine with 13 live 9mm rounds, two black warm caps adapted as masks, a flash light and a cellular phone. Shelton “Pinky” Tillett, Micah Thompson, Charles Woodeye, Eric Swan and Carl Patnett were all charged for the murder. On January 13th, 2010, the murder charge against all five accused was withdrawn.
Court proceedings took place in the San Pedro Magistrate’s Court and the preliminary inquiry which was scheduled to commence that morning was halted. Instead Magistrate Emerson Banner received instructions from Crown Counsel John Sanchez, on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Lynn Vidal, to withdraw the charges due to lack of evidence. All men were released after having spent a year on remand with the exception of Patnett who has another case pending.
According to Vidal, “from the outset there was no evidence against some of the persons. The evidence the police used was desperately unreliable.” She went on to explain that one of the testimony stated that Saldivar had been shot in the head, however the post mortem results revealed that the he had been shot to the side. When asked to give another statement, the witness confessed to not having seen Saldivar being shot.
Based on the fact that the Director of Public Prosecution is bound to carry reliable and credible evidence and in this case it would not have been able to do so. With that the men were released. Tillet and Thompson were apprehended the day before Saldivar’s body was found with $33,000US in cash. They had told officers at the time that the money was to be used to purchase a Polaris ATV.
Pinky Tillet, Micah Thompson, and Charles Woodeye, and Eric Swan were represented by Kareem Musa while Michael Peyrefitte appeared for Patnett.