Police: Palm Bay pair confronted bullies with hammerBroward judge stays on courthouse escape case, though defense intends to list him as witness
Broward Circuit Judge Raag Singhal said Thursday he will not step aside from the cases stemming from last month’s escape of murder suspect Dayonte Resiles from his courtroom, even after a defense lawyer vowed to put the judge on his list of material witnesses.
George Odom, who represents Kretron Barnes, 17, said his client does not think Singhal can give him a fair trial because Singhal was in the courtroom at the time Resiles made his way out before a scheduled hearing on July 15. Barnes and his twin brother, Trevon, are accused of using hand signals to let Resiles know a getaway car was in place outside the courthouse.
Odom said Singhal’s position gave him “the ability to see pretty much everything in the courtroom.”
“Defense counsel has every intention of naming the court as a material witness,” Odom said, referring to the judge.
Singhal is presiding over cases involving at least six of the eight defendants charged in the escape plot, including Resiles. Prosecutor Donna Perry, who is handling the escape cases, told Singhal she had no opinion on whether he should recuse himself, but suggested he would have to remove himself from all the cases if he removed himself from one.
Lawyers representing other clients said they did not want Singhal to remove himself.
James Lewis, Trevon Barnes’ lawyer, and Jamie Benjamin, who represents co-defendant Laquay Stern, made their positions known in front of the judge Thursday. “We have a right to a fair trial as well,” said Lewis, urging Singhal to keep his client’s case no matter what decision he reached on Kretron Barnes’ motion. Singhal put off a decision on whether to grant a bond to Lewis’ client Thursday.
Benjamin said he “objected” to the recusal motion and called it “legally insufficient,” prompting a rebuke from Odom, who said it was improper for other attorneys to offer their opinions. Benjamin’s client has a court appearance before Singhal on Friday.
Singhal also said the motion was legally insufficient, though he did not (and legally is not permitted to) address how he might be able to preside over the Kretron Barnes case once he is placed on the witness list.
“It becomes a little complicated,” Odom said after the hearing. He said he would discuss with his client whether to appeal Singhal’s decision or follow through on his intention to name the judge as a witness.
Resiles is accused of the Sept. 2014 murder of Jill Halliburton Su in Davie and could face the death penalty in that case.
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Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.