Criminal Justice

Federal judge on courthouse shooter's 'hit list' asked to step aside in cases against family members

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A federal judge who was No. 5 on an alleged 16-name “hit list” found among the belongings of a Delaware courthouse shooter (one of the two women killed was No. 1) has been asked to step aside from hearing criminal cases against the shooter’s family members.

Prosecutors joined with defense lawyers in Friday filings seeking the recusal of U.S. District Judge Gregory Sleet, according to the Associated Press and the News Journal. Although gunman Thomas Matusiewicz committed suicide after fatally shooting his former daughter-in-law and another woman last year, the document found after his death is expected to be introduced as evidence in a criminal conspiracy and cyberstalking case against his widow, Lenore, and two children, David Matusiewicz and Amy Gonzalez.

The defendants say they had no knowledge that Thomas Matusiewicz planned to kill Christine Belford and a friend who accompanied her to a hearing at the New Castle County Courthouse.

“The government does not take lightly the parties’ joint motion to recuse the court. Like many of the issues presented in this case, those surrounding recusal are difficult and sensitive,” wrote assistant U.S. attorney Jamie McCall in the government’s filing. “Based on the law and totality of the circumstances, however, the government respectfully submits that recusal is required under the ‘reasonable person’ standard and necessary to safeguard the public’s confidence in the judiciary and in this prosecution.”

See also: “Courthouse shooter had handwritten death warrant for lawyer who wasn’t there, authorities say” “Charged under federal cyberstalking law, relatives of courthouse shooter call case unconstitutional” : “Was federal judge on ‘hit list’ reportedly found in courthouse shooter’s belongings?”

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