Saturday, January 31, 2004

Judge declines to step aside

Prosecutor held role in campaign

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

HAMILTON - A Butler County juvenile court judge refused to recuse himself Friday in the case of a 14-year-old accused of killing his infant brother.

Judge Ronald Craft said he would proceed with the March 8 trial.

The defendant is accused of killing his 13-month-old half-brother in June 2003.

The boy, who was baby-sitting his four siblings at the family's apartment on South Eighth Street, is being held on charges of murder and domestic violence.

Defense attorney Bradley Carmella made the request to change judges after he learned Assistant Prosecutor Greg Stephens acted as treasurer for Craft's election campaign.

"I think to avoid the appearance of impropriety, it would be easier for him to step down," Carmella said.

Craft acknowledged that Stephens worked on his campaign, but said his last filing as treasurer was in December 2002.

"It's unfortunate that this case is taking that type of a turn," Stephens said. "At this point, we have to be prepared for any and all surprises that could be sprung on us."

Carmella said he would explore the possibility of filing with the Court of Appeals or the bar association.

The next hearing in the case is set for Feb. 26.

Craft also granted a media request to release competency documents related to the defendant in the case.

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