By Alyssa Schnugg
Third District Circuit Court Judge Andrew Howorth has filed an order recusing himself from future court preceding in the murder case against a former Oxford police officer accused of killing an Oxford woman.
Dominique “Lucy” Clayton was found dead Sunday at her Brittany Woods home by family members. Matthew Kinne, who was an officer with the Oxford Police Department, was arrested Monday in connection with her murder. Family members have reported the two were romantically involved.
Kinne was terminated from OPD on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Kinne appeared in court before Howorth for a first appearance bond hearing, which he later postponed at the request of state prosecutors to give them time, he said, to work with Kinne’s attorney to come up with a recommendation in regards to bond for Kinne.
After the hearing, Clayton’s family loudly expressed their disagreement with Howorth’s decision to delay the bond hearing even though Kinne would remain in custody. Several television media outlets recorded the family’s comments about Howorth.
In the order filed Thursday, Howorth said that members of Dominique “Lucy” Clayton’s family have requested – or demanded – that he “get off this case.”
“It is unusual, to say the least, that family members of crime victims (who are themselves crime victims) would seek the removal of a presiding judge. However, when a family member is violently killed, relatives and loved ones should not necessarily be expected to behave rationally. Statements made to media – whether motivated by grief, anger, fear, confusion or ignorance – are repeated by the media. Then those statements meld their way into and through social media, where they then apparently are often considered to be facts. Thereafter, public confusion or misunderstanding has an actual, genuine risk of impacting fairness trial,” the order states.
The case will be assigned to one of the other two judges who serve in the Third District Court.