The trial of two South Floridians, accused of bludgeoning to death a female traveling companion at an Eastpoint motel in April 2018, will take place no earlier than August, and will be overseen by a new judge.
At a hearing Monday afternoon in the Apalachicola courthouse, outgoing Circuit Judge Charles Dodson set the next case management hearing for Monday, July 13 in the upcoming trial of Zachary Abell, 31, of North Miami Beach, and Christina Araujo, 39, of Loxahatchee.
Both defendants are charged with second-degree murder, which carries a possible life sentence, and tampering with evidence, as part of a grisly scenario in which 31-year-old Aileen Seiden was brutally beaten inside of a room at the Sportsman Lodge in Eastpoint, and then her lifeless body dumped in a ditch off U.S. 98.
Abell’s public defender, Katelyn Crosson, assistant regional conflict counsel out of Panama City, took part in the telephonic hearing, as did Araujo’s attorneys, James P. Judkins, of Tallahassee, and Scott Richardson, of Palm Beach.
Dodson said he plans to retire, effective July 1, and will be replaced by Judge Jonathan Sjostrom, who has served as chief judge of the Second Judicial Circuit since July 1, 2015.
Assistant State Attorney Jared Patterson said a second batch of evidence in the case has been submitted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for analysis, after the results of a first batch has been provided to all counsel.
Patterson said laboratory rules limit the number of items that can be tested at any given time. "I wish I had a better answer as to why this was not submitted earlier," he said, noting that it would not be a good idea to proceed to trial without DNA analysis being completed on all the evidence.
He also told Dodson that on Sunday he had received a lengthy email from Michael Picavet, a friend of the two defendants who lives in Davie. He is believed to have notified authorities of their whereabouts after the two returned to South Florida shortly after the alleged murder, and told Picavet what had happened.