By Brad Kellar
The Hunt County District Attorney’s Office is seeking to be recused from the Brandon Dale Woodruff capital murder case and is asking for the appointment of a special prosecutor.
In a motion filed with the 354th District Court, Assistant District Attorney Noble Walker argued a recent ruling that Woodruff’s constitutional rights had been violated meant it would be impossible for local prosecutors to continue with the trial, currently scheduled to begin on Oct. 31.
“The State’s burden is immeasurably increased and the State’s ability to pursue a fair trial for the citizens of Hunt County and the victims of this capital murder are likewise limited to such a degree that justice can not be served under these conditions,” Walker wrote in the motion, which was filed Tuesday.
Judge Richard A. Beacom had not issued a response as of Thursday afternoon and the next pre-trial hearing is set for next Thursday, Oct. 11.
Woodruff, 21, has pleaded not guilty and remains in custody at the Hunt County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond on one count of capital murder in connection with the deaths of his parents, Dennis and Norma Woodruff, who were slain inside their home near Royse City in October 2005.
Beacom ruled on Sept. 18 that Woodruff’s Sixth Amendment constitutional rights to confidentiality were violated when prosecutors ordered the recording of telephone calls between Woodruff and his defense team and then listened to them.
But at that time, Beacom refused to grant a defense motion to disqualify Hunt County District Attorney Duncan Thomas’ office from prosecuting the case. Beacom instead ruled the prosecutors could not use anything they may have found in the recordings against the defendant during the trial.
“Based upon said ruling, it is the State’s position that good cause exists for the Hunt County District Attorney’s Office to be recused and that the Court appoint a special prosecutor to prosecute this case,” Walker wrote, claiming in part that the ruling itself, “ ... creates a viable error on appeal.”
Walker also said what was expected to be an already lengthy trial, should the district attorney’s office not be recused, would take even longer, as defense attorneys would be expected to argue every point of evidence offered by the prosecution may have been obtained from the recordings, requiring constant hearings outside the presence of the jury.
“It is the State’s belief that should the Hunt County District Attorney’s Office continue with the prosecution in this matter, the defense will be duty bound to object to each and every piece of evidence made by the State, based on the Court’s 6th Amendment ruling,” Walker wrote. “Failure to do so would only lead to another point of error on appeal.”
Walker noted how the defense would likely also be calling members of the prosecution team as witnesses during the trial.
By Brad Kellar
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