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Judge steps down from murder trial

A man accused of the beating death of a senior citizen will have to be retried, after Senior Justice Vera Watkins yesterday stepped down from the case and discharged the jury.

Moments after Watkins announced her decision to recuse herself, Ashley Hield’s lawyer David Cash asked the court to consider granting him bail.

However, Watkins said that Cash would have to make the application through the proper channels.

Hield, who is accused of the August 24, 2015 murder of entertainer John Frazier, whose stage name was John Chandler, has been in prison awaiting trial for almost three years.

Prosecutors allege that Hield robbed Frazier of a gold chain after his car broke down on Gibbs Corner. According to the prosecution’s case, Frazier pursued Hield through a short cut near Thompson Lane, where Hield allegedly repeatedly bashed him in the head with a conch shell.

Watkins’ decision to disqualify herself from presiding over the case came following the testimony of Ronald Scott, an eyewitness to the murder.

Watkins excused the jury early into Scott’s testimony and asked him his mother’s name. Scott is the judge’s first cousin.

Watkins decided to step down from the case due to the perceived conflict of interest as Scott is the prosecution’s principal witness.

Cash agreed with Watkins’ decision.

It is not known when Hield will get another trial date.

Watkins said she would forward the case to the registrar of the Supreme Court and would “urge him to set the matter down as quickly as possible to a judge who has a flexible calendar.”

Darnell Dorsette prosecuted.



Artesia Davis

Senior Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Artesia primarily covers court stories, but she also writes extensively about crime.
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