Ex-boyfriend, woman charged in UF student's murder

These images of Saleha Huuda are from family and friends, including images from a GTN News video shared with Gainesville.com.

Published: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 5:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 12:07 a.m.

Two people were arrested Wednesday for the murder of University of Florida student Saleha Huuda, including a former boyfriend previously accused of domestic battery against her.

Antonio D. Drayton, 24, of Gainesville was charged with first-degree murder and other charges. Cassandra M. Kimbrough, a 42-year-old Gainesville resident who authorities said had also dated Drayton, was charged as an accessory to the murder.

Both Drayton and Kimbrough were also charged with grand theft, abuse of a dead body, tampering with physical evidence and willful burning of land. Firefighters discovered the burned body of Huuda, 21, on Dec. 30 while responding to a small fire near the Gainesville Raceway.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Art Forgey said authorities believe the fire was set to cover up the crime. A medical examiner’s report released Wednesday determined that Huuda was killed before the fire was started.

The report listed her cause of death as “homicidal violence” of an undetermined type, but an investigation is ongoing into an exact cause.

Huuda was a UF senior majoring in family, youth and community sciences, a competitive cheerleader on a UF club team and a member of local dance groups. A native of Ghana who came to the U.S. as a young girl, she graduated from P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School and attended Santa Fe College before enrolling at UF.

Her family members couldn’t be reached Wednesday for comment.

Drayton had dated Huuda, but they had reportedly broken up before he forced his way into her Gainesville apartment on June 16. He was accused of kicking in the door of a locked bathroom that she was in, pushing her down and choking her, before leaving with $1,000 in items. He was charged with battery, burglary and larceny.

Kimbrough played a role in the charges being dropped, writing a letter to authorities disputing the allegations. Huuda also wrote a letter saying that she would not testify against Drayton, and the State Attorney’s Office decided against prosecuting the case.

In a conversation with The Sun last month, Drayton said he was drunk at the time of the incident and admitted to pushing Huuda while disputing the other allegations. He said that he had exchanged text messages with Huuda on the night that she went missing but denied involvement in her death.

He claimed that red paint was splattered on his door early Jan. 1, suggested that Huuda’s family was involved, even though her body wasn’t identified until later that day.

Huuda’s missing car was subsequently found in a southwest Gainesville neighborhood. The grand theft charge was related to the theft of the car, Forgey said.

Detectives were interviewing Drayton and Kimbrough late Wednesday before booking them into the Alachua County Jail, so an arrest warrant with details on the charges was not yet available.

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com.

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