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Venezuelan womanfreed of gun chargesafter cops kill friend

Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Monika Jerez-Gonzalez

A 21-year-old Venezuelan woman, who was charged with firearm and ammunition possession after her friend was killed in an alleged shootout with police in March, has been freed.

Magistrate Rehanna Hosein dismissed the charges against Monika Jerez-Gonzalez during a hearing in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Hosein’s decision was based on complaints from Jerez-Gonzalez’s lawyer Criston J Williams over the failure of the police officer, who charged her, to attend hearings of the case.

The magistrate also considered that prosecutors had no witnesses ready to testify although the case was listed for trial yesterday. Prosecutors had also failed to disclose the evidence against Jerez-Gonzalez during previous hearings, as required under the Criminal Procedure Rules.

After the decision was handed down, an emotional Jerez-Gonzalez thanked Hosein and the Judiciary for expediting her case.

Jerez-Gonzalez, who maintained her innocence since being charged, also claimed that police fabricated the case against her.

According to police reports, around 11.30 pm on March 28, Jerez-Gonzalez and her 31-year-old friend Marco Antonio Gonzales, also from Venezuela, drove past a roadblock in Diego Martin and failed to follow instructions from police to stop.

Police claimed they were shot at when they eventually intercepted the vehicle along St Lucien Road. They returned fire and wounded both friends.

Gonzales died on the scene while Gonzalez, who was shot in her face, was taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital for treatment.

A quantity of United States (US) currency was allegedly found on Gonzalez, while the loaded gun was allegedly found inside the car.

An autopsy performed Gonzales’ body showed that he died from six gunshot wounds—one in the back of the neck, four times in the mid-back region and one to the lower back.

The couple was visiting T&T to purchase food items to export his country, which is in the throes of an economic and social crisis. Gonzales’ body was flown to Venezuela for his funeral.

Jerez-Gonzalez was also represented by Kavita Roop-Boodoo.


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