Sunday, July 29, 2001

Judge, prosecutor recuse selves in trial


Accused deputy is well-known

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — A sheriff's deputy accused of assaulting a juvenile prisoner will be tried by officials from another county because he is so well-known in Boone and Kenton counties.

        A county district judge and the prosecutor withdrew their professional services Friday in a private complaint arraignment against Boone County sheriff's deputy Tom Epperson. Deputy Epperson, who had previously worked 20 years on the Covington police force, is accused of assault in the fourth degree in an alleged physical attack in June against 17-year-old Michael Funk III of Burlington. Michael's sister, Krystal Lynn Funk, of Colerain Township, said that after Michael's court appearance for a probation violation, she saw Deputy Epperson push Michael to the ground, and punch and knee him in the back while the teen was in handcuffs.

        Assistant Boone County Prosecutor William Engle asked Judge Gary Moore that he be removed, or recused, from the arraignment of Deputy Epperson because he thought there was a personal conflict. He said later that he had “known Tom personally for years.”

        Boone District Judge Charles T. Moore, saying Deputy Epperson had performed many bailiff services for him, asked Michael's father, Michael Funk Jr., if he would want Mr. Engle and the judge to be removed from the case and a special prosecutor and judge appointed.

        Mr. Funk told the judge those changes would be in everyone's best interest. Mr. Engle explained that the county would try to get a prosecutor for the case from Grant, Campbell or surrounding counties.

        Deputy Epperson's attorney, Stephen Wolnitzek, said the fourth-degree assault charge against the deputy could be punishable by up to 12 months in jail, but “I don't think he'll spend any time” in jail.

       



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