USVI judge recuses herself from ATF agent's trial

AP News
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Posted: Oct 21, 2010 6:13 PM
USVI judge recuses herself from ATF agent's trial

The superior court judge presiding in the trial of a U.S. federal agent accused of murder recused herself from the case Thursday, officials said.

Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar will be replaced by Judge Edgar Ross of St. Croix, according to a court official and a government official familiar with the case. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the information had not been made public.

Hollar did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The move came a week after attorneys for agent William Clark of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives filed a motion asking that Hollar step down. They alleged Hollar had a 30-minute phone conversation with a prosecutor in the case without a defense lawyer listening in on the call.

A Friday morning hearing with the new judge has been set, and the trial is to begin Oct. 25 as scheduled, the two officials said.

Clark has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter in the 2008 killing of a neighbor in St. Thomas that his lawyers say was in self-defense.

The agent from Rochester, New York, has been called a hero by several U.S. Congress members who praised his involvement in a domestic dispute that resulted in the neighbor's death.

An internal ATF investigation concluded the shooting was justified.