Murder trial was set to begin Tuesday but pushed to June 7
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The state has taken over the 1st degree murder trial of a Fort Madison youth charged with shooting Deeunta Ceaser, 15, of Fort Madison on Nov. 3
The trial for Dimari ‘DJ’ Meredith, 17, of Fort Madison was originally set to begin on Tuesday in North Lee County Court, but was continued on March 25 by District Judge Clinton Boddicker to June 7.
Lee County Attorney Ross Braden was handling the prosecution for the county, but on March 25, Scott Dean Brown, a supervising attorney with the Iowa Attorney General’s office appeared on behalf of the state.
A spokesperson with the AGs office said Braden asked for the state to handle the case due to a conflict in his office. The state doesn’t bill the county for the services and routinely will assist with larger profile cases in rural counties in the state that don’t see a lot of capital crimes.
Since that time, Brown has been granted a motion to withdraw and Assistant Attorney General Susan Renee Krisko has been assigned to the case for the prosecution.
Meredith was originally represented by James H. Carter and Justin Stonerook out of the Des Moines County Public Defender’s office. Stonerook has since taken a job with the Lee County Attorney’s office and withdrew on March 10.
Meredith pleaded not guilty to the charges on Dec. 2 and trial was set for April 5, 2022. Stonerook had filed to have jurisdiction in the case transferred, but District Judge John Wright ruled against that effort on Feb. 28.
Keokuk attorney Curt Dial appeared on Meredith’s behalf on March 22 and requested reinstatement of Meredith’s speedy trial rights. A pre-trial conference has been slated for May 27 in Fort Madison.
Meredith is accused of shooting Ceaser in the head while the two were at Ceaser’s grandmother’s home in the 4200 block of Avenue L at just after 5 p.m. Nov. 3.
Meredith is being held in Lee County on $1 million cash only.