THE magistrate being asked to step down from presiding over the Dana Seetahal murder inquiry, says violent threats relayed to her via text messages from the prosecution, were not significant, nor were they related to the case.
Senior magistrate Indrani Cedeno earlier today sought to correct the record on communication between herself and the prosecution between November and May.
She was asked to disclose details of her communication with the prosecution by the lawyer of accused Rajaee Ali and Earl Richards who are among ten charged with Seetahal’s murder and who are asking her to step down from the case, on the ground of apparent bias.
The application was made by attorney Criston J Williams, last month, after he complained that Cedeno failed to immediately disclose to the defence that she communicated with the prosecution on two occasions in November and May on alleged threats she received.
Williams said based on what has taken place, it was clear that the magistrate has to recuse herself. The prosecution is expected to respond to the recusal application by August 20, and the matter has been adjourned to the next day. This is the second time a magistrate presiding over the inquiry has been asked to step down.
Former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in January 2016, stepped down after a similar application was made by the defence and supported by the prosecution. She agreed and was replaced by Cedeno.
Her decision to step down came after she was informed by the then Criminal Gang and Intelligence Unit (CGIU), which was instrumental in the investigation in Seetahal’s murder, that there was a threat against her life. Security was also increased for Ayers-Caesar and officers of the CGIU were briefly assigned to her security detail.
Ayers-Caesar also recused herself from Ali’s separate case for conspiring to murder radio announcer Kevaughn “Lurbz” Savory in late 2014 on the same ground.
Also charged with Seethal’s murder are Devaughn Cummings, Ishmael Ali, Ricardo Stewart, Gareth Wiseman, Hamid Ali, Kevin Parkinson, Leston Gonzales and Roget Boucher.
In December, the DPP discontinued the murder charge against an 11th man, Stephan Cummings, who was instead charged with conspiring to murder Seetahal.
Seetahal was shot dead behind the wheel of her SUV while driving along Hamilton Holder Street, Woodbrook, on May 4, 2014, as she was returning home from an Ariapita Avenue casino.