State argues against motion to recuse judge from admitted Freeman shooter’s trial

State argues against motion to recuse judge from admitted Freeman shooter’s trial
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Judge Price called it one of the most difficult decisions he's ever had to make.

The State of Washington has issued their response to a motion requesting the judge recuse himself from the admitted Freeman High School shooter’s upcoming trial.

During a hearing on November 4, admitted Freeman shooter Caleb Sharpe’s attorney, Brooke Foley, filed an Order of Recusal with the court, asking the presiding judge to step down. Foley citing a possible conflict of interest.

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Sharpe’s defense claimed that when Judge Michael Price ruled to try Sharpe as an adult, the decision was made in favor of the public and not their juvenile defendant. They argued that in cases of trying juveniles as adults, it is also not uncommon to seek a new judge to preside over the trial. They also claimed that Judge Price made comments on the defendant’s guilt and emotional attitude as a “foregone conclusion.”

From this, two issues were presented – whether the comments were improper, and whether they would necessitate recusal.

The Superior Court determined the answer to both questions was no.

To the first point, the comments were made in the context of the Kent factors, a list of eight criteria that determine whether a juvenile is to be tried as an adult. One of the criteria is whether the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner.

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The Court explained that they were, therefore, required to address matters of Sharpe’s premeditation of the admitted shooting in order to determine trying him as an adult. They determined that to make the decision without addressing this aspect would be impossible.

To the second point, the Court addressed the comments themselves. They determined that Judge Price merely commented on the premeditative nature of the admitted shooting, and nowhere in the entire transcript of the ruling was the word ‘guilt’ mentioned.

Additionally, the Court explained that the ‘emotional attitude’ of the defendant is part of further criteria in the Kent factors – part of determining the sophistication and maturity of the juvenile.

They found that particular Kent factor to have no ‘weight in favor or in disfavor’ of declination, remarking that Sharpe’s ‘everyday life’ before the admitted shooting was ‘neither exceptional nor distressing.’ The Court explained that nothing was said about Sharpe’s mental health.

Given the conclusion, the State urged the Court to deny the motion for Judge Price to recuse himself.

Editor’s note: This article was edited to clarify that a decision was not reached, but that the State of Washington responded to the defense’s motion for Judge Price to recuse himself.

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State argues against motion to recuse judge from admitted Freeman shooter’s trial