Archive for Sunday, December 18, 2005

Judge recuses himself in Precious Doe case

December 18, 2005

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— A judge assigned to the case of a man charged with murder in the death of the little girl known as Precious Doe has recused himself.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Charles Atwell was assigned to the case of Harrell Johnson, who is accused of killing the 3-year-old girl now known as Erica Green. He announced this week he was leaving the case but declined to say why.

The decision came after Johnson's attorney asked Atwell to forbid prosecutors to seek the death penalty, despite an announcement earlier this month that they would do so.

Defense attorney Bill Raymond says prosecutors were too late in their filing and that Jackson County Prosecutor Mike Sanders told both him and Atwell that he would not seek the death penalty.

Erica's decapitated body was found in a park in April 2001 and her head was found days later. Neighbors came to call her Precious Doe, and years passed before she was identified this spring and her mother, Michelle Johnson, and that woman's husband, Harrell Johnson, were charged with murder.

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