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Mother, daughters denied bail in murder case

Monday, June 16, 2014    

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A woman and her two daughters implicated in the daring daylight fatal stabbing of their neighbour, in the presence of the police, during an ongoing feud over accusations of working obeah were denied bail when they appeared in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

Yanique Smith, 21; Garfiesha Smith, 22; and their 40-year-old mother, Stephanie Hall-Beckford, of Elm Crescent, Kingston, are charged with murder and conspiracy to murder following the April 23 slaying of Tanesha Bottom.

On Tuesday, Yanique's lawyer Zara Lewis begged Senior Magistrate Judith Pusey to admit her client to bail, insisting that she was not the main perpetrator and that she had a child who was being cared for by strangers while she was in custody.

Garfiesha's attorney, Carol Gonzalez DaCosta, also pleaded with the magistrate to release her client on bail, indicating that her client had an alternative place of abode in Lacovia, St Elizabeth.

But the magistrate was resolute in her decision to keep the women in custody.

"The woman was killed in her mother's arms in the presence of the police. They have no respect for the law, let them stay where they are," she said.

The women will return to court on July 3.

Allegations are that on the day in question the accused were involved in a quarrel with Bottom and the police were summoned. During their mediation, Bottom reportedly went inside her house and returned with a bottle containing a liquid substance and a ratchet knife, but she was disarmed by the police.

Shortly afterwards, while the police were still present, it was reported that Garfiesha allegedly used a knife to stab the complainant in her chest. The injured woman was rushed to the Kingston Public Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Prior to the complainant's death, she had accused Hall-Beckford and Rossetta Noble of working obeah on her. She told the court that the women had sprinkled white rum, chicken blood and white rice in her yard.

Noble was charged with soliciting the practice of obeah, while Hall-Beckford was charged with preaching obeah.

However, the charges against both women were withdrawn on Tuesday after the prosecutor told the court that it is no longer unlawful to practise obeah in the island.

- Tanesha Mundle

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