The defense counsel for Phillip Walters, the Wyoming County man charged with the killing of a 24-year-old woman and then dumping her body in the Susquehanna River at Falls, has requested that President Judge Russell Shurtleff be recused from the case.
Walters’ attorney Timothy Michaels had argued in a Nov. 7 hearing for Motion in Limine to limit evidence in an upcoming trial in which Walters is alleged to have killed his live-in girlfriend Haley Lorenzen in December. The body was recovered July 20, some 22 miles downstream.
In the nearly 2-hour hearing on Nov. 7, Michaels argued that he had only recently accessed records that he believed he should have been given a long time ago, and he also believed he had been denied access to an alleged female witness who had been granted immunity from prosecution last January.
One of the main points in Michael’s call for recusal is a contention that in the Nov. 7 hearing, he was asked by the judge if he was seeking a continuance, and he replied that he was not but was prepared to go to trial Nov. 18 with the limited evidence provided.
Michaels said that because District Attorney Jeff Mitchell was not asked at the same hearing if he would like a continuance, he believed there was implicit bias, in favor of the Commonwealth based on the judge’s order to postpone the trial two months.
In a Nov. 13 answer to Michael’s motion for the judge’s recusal, Mitchell noted the court had ruled against the Commonwealth over the course of the case, and he believed its rulings were based upon a fair interpretation of the law. He also said he believed the court had treated defense counsel in a fair and professional manner.
It is not clear when Michael’s motion for the judge’s recusal will be responded to by the court.
The case which last week was set for Jan. 21, has now been moved to Jan. 27.
Walters was arrested Jan. 9. He remains jailed at the Wyoming County Correctional Facility.