She says she was forced to defend herself from a jealous former lover, but 53 year old Lucilla Bartley of Belize City spent four years in prison awaiting trial on murder charges. That trial took place this week and at its end this morning, Supreme Court Justice Troadio Gonzalez found her not guilty of murder. Between 9:30 in the evening of April 23, 2011 and 1:00 in the morning of April 24, 2011, Bartley was locked in a deadly struggle for her life with Osbourne “Fish” Gordon, which only ended when she stabbed him twice in the chest with his own knife, which he had earlier put to her throat, threatening to kill her in the presence of witnesses. Bartley’s attorney, Richard “Dickie” Bradley, explained why his client was deservedly freed.
“What transpired is that the law in this country is no different from the law all over the world. A person who is under attack has a right to defend herself or himself, and provided you do not use excessive force, the Court will do what Justice Troadio Gonzalez just ruled that in all the circumstances, all the evidence, her raising of self defence which was not disproved…there was nothing to prove that was not the case. The fact that she had tried to escape in her view, which is what is important…if you think that somebody is going to kill you, you would be a fool not to defend yourself. She tried to escape, she was prevented, and in the circumstances she did what she thought was the only thing she could do. So his Lordship looked at the evidence briefly just now, and his ruling was that she is not guilty, and she is not going to return to Kolbe as she has been doing over the past several days of the trial. She told me that she has not slept…that had she been found guilty she would have taken her life. She had been in jail for four years and God is great, as the Muslim say.”
The prosecution provided no eyewitness accounts of its own, and so judge Gonzalez relied primarily on the testimony of Bartley, who readily admitted to causing Gordon’s death, but only in trying to prevent her own. According to Bartley, Gordon approached her while she was with a male friend, saying she would die that night and that he was tired of her disrespecting him. He then attacked her with the knife he was carrying while warning off her companion. As they struggled , the knife fell to the ground and a passing vehicle stopped which she tried to get into to escape but Gordon intervened. She then went for the knife and delivered the fatal injuries. Thereafter, she went to a justice of the peace and told her account, repeating it to the police afterward despite needing urgent medical treatment. Bradley describes the lengthy wait for justice as a travesty, as the facts of the case clearly established self-defence, which is a total defence to an accusation of murder. He told PLUS News that while the case was tried without jury as all such cases have since 2011, Bartley’s peers would have come to the same conclusion as Justice Gonzalez.
“That is the law, that is another travesty, that we have been deprived of having a juror of men and women who would have heard Mrs. Bartley’s case and come to the same decision that the judge came to. That the only evidence, from whatever it came from, supports her claim that she was under attack, the attacker had the knife, there were bruises consistent with a fight. In fact, the written statement was that he had put the knife to her throat and told her,’ B yuh dead today,’ and words to that effect. Really there was no reason to keep this woman in prison for four long years on the basis of that. Suppose there was some witness, some one witness that can say that she was the attacker, that she produced a knife then ok. But my goodness, a man the lay wait you 1:30 in the morning at the corner of 123rd Street and then attack you, beat u up, literally beat you up, then pull a knife and tell you,’you dead today.’ How can she be guilty of anything… anything at all?”
Bartley is a mother of five and claimed her prior relationship with Gordon was abusive and violent.