Two men walked free from a murder charge on Tuesday, for an incident that dates all the way back to 2004.
Carlos Granillo, a Salvadoran National, and Rene Lopez Morentes, a Guatemalan National, had been arrested and charged for the murder of Mary Jane Blondell, an American Retiree who lived on a secluded farm off the Hummingbird Highway.
On July 25th 2004, Mary Jane Blondell, 73 years old at the time, was stabbed twice to the neck and buried in a shallow grave about 200 yards from her home. Police believed the motive to be robbery.
Both men were remanded to prison without bail until 2007, when Carlos Granillo and Rene Morentes were first tried for aggravated burglary and murder. In April 2007, a jury was hung on the murder charge, so instead the men were convicted for aggravated burglary. The attorneys for both men pled for leniency.
In the end, Carlos Granillo, represented by Hubert Elrington at the time, was given the minimum 10 year sentence for aggravated burglary, and Rene Morentes, represented by Linsbert Willis at the time, was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.
The murder case resumed earlier this year, and was struck out on Tuesday, after Madam Justice Antoinette Moore gave a verdict of not guilty.
Senior Counsel Simeon Sampson, defence attorney for the duo, explained why the judge ruled in favour of his clients.
“The problem for the prosecution was that the only evidence against the two men were confessional statements from each. In the trial with in a trial, after hearing evidence both for the prosecution and the defence, the learned trial Judge Ms Moore ruled yesterday evening that she was not satisfied that these two confessional statements were obtained voluntarily.
She entertained certain reservations and doubt which swayed her mind in favour of deciding that the policemen used improper and unprofessional tactics in getting the statements, and so she threw out the statements. The men now are free to go, once their immigration status are sorted out.”
Carlos Granillo and Rene Morentes were returned to Hattieville Prison on Tuesday and will be released as soon as all their immigration documents are in order.