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Polled readers support Tipton judge’s removal

By Steve Stewart
steve@decaturdaily.com · 340-2444

Friday’s appeals-court decision in the Karen Tipton murder case makes it possible for the long-running case to move on, Daily reader Marjorie Witt says.

Witt agrees with about six out of 10 people answering an online poll, who answered yes when asked whether they agreed with the decision ordering Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson to remove himself from the case.

Sixty-one readers (58.7 percent) voted yes and 43 voted no in the two-day, unscientific poll, which ended Sunday at www
.decaturdaily.com. People could vote from anywhere.

Thompson’s recusal is “the best thing,” Witt of Madison wrote in an e-mail. “He has made it more about the wrong things the prosecution has done instead of what crime the defendant has allegedly committed. The central focus of the case has become the judge vs. the prosecution, not the state vs. Daniel Wade Moore.”

1999 slaying

Tipton, a Decatur doctor’s wife, was killed in 1999. A jury convicted Moore, and Thompson sentenced him to death. But Thompson later dismissed the charges, finding that prosecutors had withheld evidence. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reinstated the case, and Moore will get a new trial.

But Thompson will not conduct the second trial unless a higher court overrules Friday’s recusal decision by the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Other readers’ e-mailed comments sided with the judge and criticized the prosecution, led by Alabama Assistant Attorney General Don Valeska. Will Dill, another assistant attorney general, assisted him.

“I believe Judge Thompson should be allowed to remain on the case,” wrote B.J. Hopkins of Decatur. “Seems to me that the ones to be removed and replaced should be Valeska and Dill as prosecuting attorneys, especially after all the information that came out against the prosecution during the first trial.

“If Judge Thompson got frustrated, perhaps this was Valeska’s intention all along, just so it would come to the point that it is now. To have those two return would certainly present an ‘appearance of impropriety owed to the public’ and Daniel Wade Moore.

“If Mr. Troy King is the caliber Alabama attorney general I think he is, he will take this under strong advisement!”

Jim Shouse of Decatur wrote, “The judge didn’t lie or withhold evidence; the prosecution withheld evidence, so why isn’t Valeska removed from the case of Daniel Moore?”

James Roden of Hartselle commented:

“I personally think prosecutor Valeska is only concerned with getting a conviction whether justice is served or not. I think Judge Glenn Thompson should be allowed to hear the case and would be much more fair than Valeska.

“If Valeska truly wanted justice, he would not have withheld evidence in the first trial. I hope Mr. Moore’s lawyer, Mr. (Sherman) Powell, is successful in his appeal to get Judge Thompson reinstated.”

Powell’s effort to keep Thompson on the case raised questions for Witt, who noted that further appeals will keep Powell’s client “in jail and in limbo.”

“I’d like to hear Mr. Powell’s reasons as to why Judge Thompson is the only one that should preside over the court proceedings,” she wrote. “Does he feel the odds of winning this case is better with this judge than another? If so, why?”

Powell, contacted Sunday, responded: “I don’t mind either of the judges trying the case, but what bothers me is them saying Judge Thompson was not fair. That’s wrong. It’s not Judge Thompson; it’s the prosecutor.”

Sheryl Marsh contributed to this story.

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