Murder charges against Christian Espat, Nigel Williams and minor dismissed due to lack of evidence

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Island residents Christian Espat, Nigel Williams and a minor, were acquitted of murder charges in the shooting death of retired American National Cliff Kirk on Wednesday, April 24th at the San Pedro Magistrate Court.

Kirk was reportedly shot in the head when four robbers stormed into his property located off the north-west coast of Ambergris Caye on July 5, 2018. He was first transported to Belize City for medical attention and then taken to the United States of America, where he succumbed to his injury. A few days later, Espat, Williams and a minor were arrested and charged for the murder on charges of Aggravated Burglary, Attempted Murder, Dangerous Harm and Use of Deadly Means of Harm. After almost a year of court trials, the defence convinced the San Pedro Magistrate Court that there was no concrete evidence against the accused and thus, they were set free.

Magistrate Deborah Rogers, however, warned the trio that even though she discharged them, the Director of Public Prosecutions can still override her decision and take the matter to the Supreme Court in Belize City. The Magistrate told them that she could not predict when and if this could happen.
Representing the case was Attorney-at-law Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley, who after 1PM began his submissions in defence of Espat, and consequently the other two accused. After the Magistrate finished reviewing the evidence (statements) provided by the prosecutor, Bradley took to the stand beginning with what took place at Kirk’s property. According to Bradley, two statements were submitted to police, one by the caretaker, Victor Medina, and the other by Kirk’s wife, Linda Kirk. The main statement was from Medina, who according to Bradley, stated that two young men arrived at the property aboard a jet ski and asked for some fuel. Afterward, they left and returned once again, this time asking to borrow a cell phone to make a call. It was then that two more male persons emerged from some nearby bushes and held Medina at gunpoint.

According to Bradley, Medina testified that there were three tall, dark-skinned males and one short, clear-skinned individual. Bradley stressed on this fact recorded in the statement, to show the Magistrate that none of the accused matched such descriptions. “One of them is clear skinned, but he is tall, the next one is brown in skin color but short, and the third one is dark in complexion, but not tall, so these description does not match with the accused,” said Bradley. Also, Medina’s statement continues by saying that the men had masks and that he could not recognize them. He went to say in the report that he was then taken to Kirk’s house where the shooting took place. Meanwhile, Linda’s statement reportedly states that she could not recognize the culprits and that perhaps she could only identify them by the body build. However, and according to Bradley, nowhere in her statement does she describe the body build of his clients.

Bradley argued that there was no proper identification parade done to identify the alleged culprits. According to him, and based on the evidence submitted, Medina was shown a couple of pictures and allegedly picked the images of Espat, Williams and the minor. “Even though he had stated in his report that he could not recognize the perpetrators because they were masked,” Bradley stressed.

The other piece of argument was the certification of Kirk’s death. The Magistrate indicated that she did not receive any document certifying that Kirk was dead. This piece of information was further emphasized by the defence stating that if such is the case, then the accused cannot be held liable for something that has not been officially confirmed. Bradley asked the court that because of the lack of evidence against the trio the case was not to be referred to the Supreme Court and thus, there was no reason to keep the detainees incarcerated any longer.

Magistrate Rogers compared the evidence presented to her and the submission from the defence. She concluded that the information from the prosecution was very poor and based on that evidence, she dismissed the case, and the trio was set free.

Outside the courtroom, there was an emotional scene as relatives and friends celebrated the Magistrate’s decision. Espat, along with Williams and the minor, then walked out of the police station as free men, where they were further greeted by other relatives. One of the minors’ relative told The San Pedro Sun that they were sure that justice was going to prevail and they prayed for this day to come. Williams family just said that they hope such experience never happens again. Espat briefly stated that he is innocent and that he was wrongly accused in the first place. His family believes that due to Espat’s brushes with the law, he was an easy target to pick.

In August 2017, Espat was charged and arraigned for a shooting incident that occurred in the San Pedrito Area. He was accused of allegedly shooting 27-year-old Lyndon Tyndall, and two primary school students, ages 9 and 12 when they were at a woodwork shop.

According to the police report, Tyndall received three gunshot wounds to the left side of his abdomen and three gunshot wounds to his left leg. The nine-year-old minor was shot in the wrist, and the other student was shot in the right buttock. Espat’s attorney, Dickie Bradley was able to secure his liberty at a bail hearing before Justice Adolph Lucas, who released him on $10,000 bail.

The previous year, On April 7, 2016, Espat was arrested along with Alex Espat for the offense of “Possession of Controlled Drugs” and “Drug Trafficking” following the discovery of 23.3 grams of Cocaine and 2.9 grams of Cannabis in their apartment.

A month later, he was detained for ‘Possession of Drugs and Firearms,’ on May 3, 2016. At the time, Police speculated that the weapons found in his possession fit the description of those used in the assassination of Frank Edwards Jr., in February of 2016.

Espat was also one of two persons injured during a drug-related shootout in Northern Ambergris Caye in April of 2014.

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