A Pasco murder suspect was unsuccessful Tuesday in his attempt to get the assigned judge off his case.
Kenyatta K.E. Bridges, 26, believes he will not get a fair trial before Superior Court Judge Carrie Runge because of her previous rulings and comments in court.
Bridges and his attorney, Karla Kane Hudson, filed a motion earlier this month asking Runge to recuse herself from the case. The motion included a four-page handwritten statement by Bridges.
During a brief hearing Tuesday, Deputy Prosecutor Brian Hultgrenn argued that Bridges wants another judge just because he doesn’t like Runge’s decisions.
Runge denied the motion.
Bridges is charged with first-degree murder while he or an accomplice was armed with a deadly weapon, along with conspiracy and second-degree unlawful possession of a gun.
His trial is scheduled Sept. 2.
Bridges has maintained his innocence in the Dec. 3 death of Lorenzo “Richie” Fernandez Jr., 22, who was shot to death as he sat in his car outside a Pasco apartment complex.
DeShawn I. Anderson, 19, is charged with the slaying, along with earlier gang-related shootings in Pasco.
Bridges’ wife, Mary A. Faucett, is accused of helping lure Fernandez to his death by calling him that night to meet up, knowing Anderson had planned an ambush, according to court documents. She also traveled with Bridges and Anderson out of the area to dispose of evidence.
Bridges has made several requests for lower bail. The amount was reduced to $500,000 from $1 million in January, but Runge has refused to drop it to $50,000 or even $100,000 with electronic home monitoring.
Kane Hudson has said Bridges loves his family and wouldn’t put their property and finances in jeopardy by skipping a future court hearing.
In her motion, the lawyer said a fair trial is a basic requirement of due process and, based on Bridges’ claim in this case, a recusal is not only appropriate but mandated.
Kane Hudson said Runge demonstrated actual bias during the bail reduction hearings.
While Deputy Prosecutor Brian Hultgrenn argued that Bridges had a number of past failures to appear from other cases, Kane Hudson explained the nature of the underlying reasons behind those missed court dates.
Runge in June said she would reconsider a lower bail amount if given all documentation on Bridges’ criminal history and court attendance record.
“When hearing a bail motion, unless it is a capital case, there is a presumption of release unless the court makes certain findings,” Kane Hudson wrote in her motion. “The court in this case took the state at face value in their presentations to the court, but did not afford the same opportunity to the defense.”
She added, “To anyone present at this proceeding it would appear that (Bridges) did not obtain a fair and neutral hearing.”
Bridges, in his written statement, brought up a March 17 hearing when Runge walked off the bench because the defendant refused to listen to court orders and kept reading from a dismissal motion he had filed earlier that month.
Bridges was questioning what evidence there is to support the murder charge, and said he wanted to consult with the court and not his attorney. As Bridges became argumentative, Runge called a recess, told him they were “not taking down anything more” for the record and left the courtroom.
Bridges responded with a number of expletives and said he was “sick of this.”
In his statement, Bridges said he feels his First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated when his hearing was abruptly ended by Runge. Bridges also states his Sixth and Eighth Amendments have been violated in regards to the time it has taken to get to trial and his “excessive bail.”
Bridges quoted family and friends as telling him it seems like Runge “has some kind of vendetta” against him or just doesn’t want to hear what he has to say.
Hultgrenn said defendants are allowed to file one affidavit of prejudice to disqualify a judge from their case and they don’t have to substantiate that claim. However, if the judge has made a discretionary ruling, the defendant must support their allegations of actual or potential bias.
Hultgrenn said Bridges was unhappy with Runge’s rulings and that he was not allowed to argue motions as he wanted.
“Essentially, because the judge did not rule in (Bridges’) favor, and the judge chose to follow the Rules of Criminal Procedure at previous hearings, instead of doing his bidding, the defendant assumes bias,” he wrote.
Hultgrenn said this is an example of shopping for a judge to get favorable rulings, which is prohibited and serves no purpose.