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New twist in Tipton case
Prosecutor wants trial judge removed

By Sheryl Marsh 340-2437

The attorney general's office is asking the Court of Criminal Appeals to remove Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson from the Karen Tipton murder case.

Assistant Attorney General Don Valeska first filed a petition in Circuit Court in August asking Thompson to recuse himself from trying Daniel Wade Moore a second time in the stabbing death of the 39-year-old housewife.

Thompson denied the petition in January.

Valeska, who prosecuted Moore in a 2002 trial, appealed the ruling to the appellate court.

The prosecutor alleges that Thompson improperly released Moore and ignored the state's argument. Also, Valeska alleged that the judge publicly made disparaging comments about the state's evidence and demeaned prosecutors and investigators.

Valeska's petition states that Thompson demonstrates the appearance of impropriety.

The petition further alleges that Thompson made improper remarks throughout court proceedings of the case, some which caused the audience to laugh.

A jury convicted Moore in November 2002 of capital murder in the March 12, 1999, stabbing death of Tipton at her home on Chapel Hill Road Southwest.

Thompson sentenced Moore to death, but later overturned the conviction and sentence and granted him a new trial.

In February 2005 Thompson dismissed the capital charges against Moore, 31, and freed him from the County Jail. After about four days of freedom the appellate court granted Valeska's motion to return Moore to jail where he remains.

Thompson cited double jeopardy and prosecutorial misconduct when dismissing the indictment.

The appeals court reversed Thompson's ruling and remanded the case for a new trial. The higher court had previously upheld Thompson's ruling to grant Moore a new trial.

Valeska states in his petitions for Thompson's recusal that the state cannot get a fair trial because of comments the judge made when freeing Moore.

Valeska cites case law and judicial rules in both petitions to support his request to force Thompson to recuse himself.

"Recusal is required if the trial judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party. Alternatively, even if actual bias cannot be proven, recusal is required ... if the trial judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned," the initial petition states.

The petition alleges that Thompson holds personal rejection for Valeska and a Decatur police investigator.

"In his order dismissing Moore's indictment, Judge Thompson stated that Mr. Valeska and Mr. (Michael) Petty are dishonest," the petition states."

Valeska also says in the petition that widespread publicity through local and national media, such as "48 Hours Investigates," caused the public to view the case as Thompson versus the state.

The appeals court gave Thompson 28 days to respond to the petition.

Moore's new trial is set for July 30.

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