Today's Arizona Republic reports, "Prosecutor files motion vs. judge." It's written by Jim Walsh.
A prosecutor is accusing a judge of trying to derail his effort to seek the death penalty against the man charged with fatally shooting a Gilbert police lieutenant in 2010 and then triggering a 50-mile pursuit that ended in a gunbattle.
Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Juan Martinez argues in a motion that Superior Court Judge Janet Barton should not preside over Christopher Redondo's mental-competency review.
Instead, a judge assigned to the Comprehensive Mental Health Court should hear evidence from mental-health experts and decide if Redondo is competent, meaning that he is capable of understanding court proceedings and assisting in his defense, Martinez wrote.
Karen Arra, a Superior Court spokeswoman, said judges are prohibited by a strict canon of ethics from commenting on pending cases. The next hearing on Redondo's case is scheduled for Nov. 26, and the trial is scheduled for Feb. 25, 2013.
Arra also said that it is not uncommon for trial-court judges to preside over competency-review hearings, even though there is a separate court established to handle such reviews.
Martinez's petition asserts that Barton demonstrated her prejudice against a death sentence by suggesting in July that Martinez offer Redondo a plea to a natural life sentence.
"Specifically, the judge attempted to broker a life sentence although she knew defendant was already serving a natural life sentence for a separate murder in another county," Martinez wrote.
He wrote that he declined to offer Redondo the plea deal because it would allow the defendant to escape further punishment in the Jan. 28, 2010, slaying of Gilbert police Lt. Eric Shuhandler.