Late this evening, the murder trial of RonleePetillo and Matthew Smith, 23, charged with the murder of fruit vendor, Miguel Angel Rivera which occurred on March 11, 2011 at the Michael Finnegan Market concluded in an acquittal before Justice Adolph Lucas in the Supreme Court. The trial came to a end late this evening at around 4:50, after the judge rule that the prosecution had no evidence against either man and that there was no information in the two statements which led to any activity which disclosed there was a plan to kill with respect of the two accused. That ruling came from an earlier motion by the crown to continue the case against the men despite the fact that the Crown’s witness, Juan Guardado was treated as hostile after he caught amnesia on the stand and told the court that his 2011 statement he remember giving to police in the shooting but that nothing said in the statement he remember giving to the police. All in all, Guardado could not help the prosecution case so he left the court unable to identify any of the two accused men as the man who shot his friend. With more here are the attorneys for the accused, Anthony Sylvester and Leeroy Banner
Antony Sylvester, Attorney for the Accused: When a prosecution closes its case and the evidence is such that there is no evidence against a defendant it becomes almost routine that the defence council will make a submission of no case to answer.
Leroy Banner, Attorney for Matthew Smith: The whole case was built mostly on his evidence and at the end of the day his evidence did not come up to scratch to the proper standards and therefore he turned hostile but his statement that he gave to the police if you admit it to the evidence there was not enough evidence for them to convict any of the accused men.So pretty much after the witness did not live up to expectation, the case went downhill afterwards.
In his 2011 statement, Guardado told police that there were three men of dark complexion who all looked alike. One stayed at the bridge, identified as Smith, while Petillo and the other individual rode off on bike towards the deceased. He saw Petillo fire a single shot at Rivera, who was hit behind the left ear and died. According to Guardado, Petillo was wearing a hood, but that he knew him because he saw when Petillo came to the market to visit another vendor. But before Guardado left the stand he could not identify the accused due to him being treated as a hostile witness. No dock identification was allowed. This evening, Judge Lucas in acquitting the men said, “The fact that the witness said that all black people look alike makes it difficult for him to say that on a prema facie case, that each accused would have been properly identified…” He also adapted the police and criminal evidence act of 1994 which lays out the procedure to follow how to do group identification and that when the accused Petillo refuse an identification parade, he was subjected to a group identification which he rule was not in accordance with the act, hence why he found both men not guilty of the murder as there is no evidence against either of the accused men in respect to the murder of Miguel Angel Rivera. At the end of the prosecution closing its case, both attorneys for the men, Anthony Sylvester for RonleePetillo and Leroy Banner for Matthew Smith, made a no case submission asking the judge to acquit their clients, which he did. Both men wasted no time and rush out of the court room since they had no other pending matters. RonleePetillo beat a second murder having walked from the murder of Dennis Gladden aka “Tiki” some years ago.