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December 18, 2009
Magistrate pulls out of ‘Suicide’ inquest

Just three days after clearing his courtroom of everyone except the jury and police officers, the presiding magistrate has stopped a coroner’s inquest.{{more}}

Magistrate Lester Caesar, coroner of the inquiry into the shooting death of Kamesha ‘Suicide’ Alexander by police officers, abruptly excused himself from the matter last Friday and relieved the jury.

Caesar cited the fact that he has a working relationship with the officers involved in the inquiry. The officers are stationed at the Biabou police station, where the magistrate also holds court.

This move by Caesar has Alexander’s mother, Lovedear, wondering if she and the rest of the public will find out what actually happened on October 16 last year at Biabou when her son was shot and killed, and who is responsible.

Filled with questions and concerns, Alexander visited Searchlight offices seeking answers.

“I want to know why these men were not suspended?” she queried.

“A year is gone and nobody has been suspended for his death.

“The policemen who allegedly beat up the child get suspended. So how you can’t get suspended for a killing?”

She also inquired why her father, who she said witnessed the incident, was not called to give evidence at the inquiry, and why the hearing was deemed a private one before it was stopped.

Caesar created an uproar last week when he instructed persons seated in the Marriaqua Magistrate’s Court, including the deceased’s family members, a representative of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Alexanders’ Lawyer Jomo Thomas and a Searchlight reporter to leave, saying that the matter was not a public hearing.

Although Caesar was within his right to do so, the move then was considered an unwise act by some, seeing that the matter included police officers and the shooting was committed in public.

“I want to know how it’s a private hearing when it was a public death, because they kill him in public.” the bereaved mother pondered aloud.

When contacted by Searchlight, DPP Collin Williams said that the magistrate “ought to have known beforehand that the officers were in his jurisdiction, because he should have had the files containing statements about the matter.”

He also said that the officers are not expected to be suspended since they are not accused of any wrongdoing, pending the result of the inquest, when or if it resumes.

“An inquest is held to determine if anyone is at fault,” Williams indicated.

As for the failure of Lovedear’s father to give evidence during the inquest, the DPP said that because the matter came to an abrupt end, it is uncertain if the coroner would have called the man to testify eventually.

Caesar’s abandonment of the inquiry means that the matter lands on the desk of Chief Magistrate Sonya Young, whose decision it is to make as to when and where the matter will be heard again. (JJ)