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State Supreme Court keeps Thompson off Tipton case

By Sheryl Marsh

It appears that Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson will not preside over a new trial for Daniel Wade Moore in the Karen Tipton murder case.

That’s the latest in the eight-year-old capital murder case, which has been in and out of state appellate courts for almost five years. It is the second time the Alabama Supreme Court has declined to reverse a lower court.

In May, the state Court of Criminal Appeals granted Assistant Attorney General Don Valeska’s request to remove Thompson from the case. The ruling stated Valeska had shown that it would be an appearance of impropriety for Thompson to remain in the case.

Moore’s attorney Sherman Powell Jr. asked the Supreme Court to order the lower court to set aside its ruling and allow Thompson to remain in the case.

The Supreme Court denied Powell’s petition in July, but later in the month scheduled it for re-hearing.

On Tuesday, the high court released another ruling denying Powell’s petition.

Like the first ruling, Tuesday’s simply stated the petition was denied. The court did not give a reason. All five justices concurred.

Assistant Attorney General Will Dill, who helped prosecute Moore in 2002, said the state is ready for trial.

“We’re looking forward to the trial and getting justice for Karen Tipton and her family,” Dill said.

Powell is ready, too.

“We’re anxious to move forward and try to get everything lined up for a new trial,” he said.

The appellate court ruling that the Supreme Court upheld stated, “After considering the long and tortured history in the case as well as the clear animosity between the judge and the prosecutor, we believe that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Judge Thompson to divorce himself from the previous proceedings in the case.”

The ruling was on Valeska’s appeal of Thompson’s denial of a prosecution petition filed in Morgan County Circuit Court asking him to step down.

Valeska stated in his petition that the state could not get a fair trial because Thompson had shown bias and made negative comments about state evidence.

Thompson said in an answer to Valeska’s petition that he had not made such comments.

After a two-week trial in November 2002, a jury convicted Moore of capital murder and recommended life without parole for his punishment.

Thompson sentenced him to death, but later set aside the conviction and sentence to grant Moore a new trial.

Then, in 2005, Thompson granted a defense motion to dismiss the charges and free Moore.

Valeska filed a petition with the appellate court and after about four days of freedom Moore went back to jail.

Double jeopardy

Thompson said he freed Moore because a second trial would put him in double jeopardy and he could not get a fair trial. The judge stated that Valeska withheld evidence, including a 245-page FBI report, and accused the prosecutor of misconduct.

After the court reversed Thompson, prosecution and defense petitions kept bombarding the appellate court.

Morgan County presiding Judge Steve Haddock said weeks ago that he will try the case if the ruling stands to remove Thompson.

The case has not been set for trial.

Powell said the judge will have to hold hearings on numerous motions pending in the case.

The case drew national attention, with “48 Hours Investigates” airing a segment on it on CBS.

Powell said someone with the program called his office Tuesday and said they will attend hearings in the case.

Police developed Moore as a suspect after learning he told his uncle he was in Tipton’s home when a friend killed her March 12, 1999. He recanted the statement and said he made it up because he feared going to jail again. He had been in jail for theft.

Moore, 33, remains in the county jail.

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