Justice In Belize
Jan 27, 2011 - Some Charges Dropped
Trial in April
The trial was scheduled for April 14th. This time Mr. Stout's lawyer actually showed up, but for reasons not explained, his appearance was not on the court docket! Justice Delayed once again.
The Saga Continues
On January 24th, Gordon Stout appeared before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer to be informed that 2 of the charges laid against him as a result of the tragic accident that occurred over a year ago have been dropped. One remaining charge, Causing Death By Careless Conduct, remains and is scheduled for trail in April, 2011.
All the witnesses were present, some with their attorneys. The only player missing this Thursday Morning was Michael Peyrefitte, Mr. Stout's representative. Had Gordon not appeared, he would have been held in contempt of court. One wonders why an attorney is not required to appear with his client and not subject to the same sanctions for failing to do so.
Biased Reporting by the Belize Press Continues
From Channel 5 News
Jan 27, 2011
US National, 81 years old, on trial for fatal traffic accident
Eighty-one year old US National, Gordon Stout, got a mixture of good and bad news in court today. Stout, who has been living in Corozal, appeared in the Belize City Court before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer on three charges relating to a fatal traffic accident in November 2009. The preliminary inquiry was to start this morning, when a directive from the Director of Public Prosecutions was presented to the court. The memo stated that charges of Manslaughter by Negligence and Driving a Motor Vehicle without Due Care and Attention are to be withdrawn, but no reason was given. That leaves a single charge of Causing Death by Careless Conduct for which Stout will stand trial at the Supreme Court in the April Session. Stout was granted bail of four thousand dollars and indicated to the court that he has at least three witnesses to testify on his behalf. The accident occurred back on November fifth, 2009 between miles twenty-four and twenty-five on the Northern Highway. Twenty-eight year old Dorian Herrera, a resident of Double Head Cabbage, was working on the roadside when he was hit by a Gold Toyota SUV, driven by the American senior citizen. Ironically, Herrera′s relatives say he was placing a traffic cone to caution drivers to slow down when the vehicle hit him.
More Unreasonable Treatment of American Seniors?
The family of sixty year old Suzan Benzle Boutz has returned to the US after a visit to the jewel. Suzan was involved in a traffic incident in the south which has led to her detention, arrest and the surrender of her passport to prevent her from leaving Belize until the conclusion of her case for two traffic offenses. Her son, Elliott Benzle, has posted a website called Belize Travel Review with a large banner at the top, saying " Warning Do Not Travel to Belize ". The site carries their version of the accident, which according to Susan and her son, was not her fault.
U.S. Woman Charged For Traffic Offence In Belize, Back home in Ohio
From Channel 7 News - January 28, 2011 (Yet more biased reporting)
We first told you about Suzan Benzle Boutz on January 10th. She's the 60 year old American Woman who knocked down a man on a motorcyle on the southern highway and was charged with driving with due care and attention" and "negligent grievous harm."
As is standard in such cases involving foreign nationals, the US citizen's passport was taken away because she is a flight risk. Well, she's proven that...how do we know? Because two days after appearing in court and getting her passport back, she's flown away!
And while Benzle Boutz happily declares her fugitive status and freely flouts the Belizean justice system, it's not that's simple. The procedure is that when the case comes up next month, they will most likely try her case ex-parte when she does not appear in court, and if convicted, a warrant will be issued for her arrest. She said she won't be here and in that case the government would liase with the US government to have her located and sent back to Belize.
The accident happened in December when Benzle Boutz crashed into thirty nine year old Rony Robert Cruz. Cruz who was was transported to the hospital and Boutz was detained by the police. According to Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mike Segura, a doctor classified Cruz's injuries as maim.
Segura went on to say that, police investigations reveal that Boutz was at fault because she failed to give way to traffic.
Sorry to disappoint Channel 7 News, but the USA Government will not even attempt to extradite a USA citizen to Belize over a minor traffic accident. No court in the USA would even consider issuing such an order. It is hard to believe the GOB would even consider squandering valuable resources they don't have to pursue the issue. Perhaps if the 'Justice System' of Belize would spend less time criminalizing accidents they could do something about the highest per capita murder rate in hemisphere.
Read the articles and draw your own conclusions.
Still Unresolved -- 3 years later
As astonishing as it seems, it is now January 2013, over three years since the accident, and nothing has been resolved. Gordon did get his car back, which he took to Mexico to be repaired. Several thousands of dollars have been spent on attorneys, investigators and of course the bail. The prosecutor still isn't ready for trial!
Gordon Stout died on March 25th, 2013 with this case still pending. Almost 3 1/2 years with this cloud over his head. What a complete travesty.