On Thursday, November 30, Yahoo News reported that Nelson Circuit Court Judge Charles Simms III will remain the presiding judge over Brooks Houck’s upcoming murder trial after the Supreme Court of Kentucky denied a defense motion seeking his removal. Houck is accused of murdering his former girlfriend, Crystal Rogers, who disappeared in 2015 and is presumed dead.

Houck’s defense attorneys had argued that comments Simms made during an unrelated 2017 child custody case involving Houck’s partner at the time, Crystal Maupin, demonstrated bias against their client. In that case, Simms referenced Houck as the “prime suspect” in Rogers’ disappearance in a written order. However, Chief Justice Laurance B. VanMeter said in the denial that the defense failed to show any disqualifying circumstances.

Simms himself defended his previous comments, saying his ruling in the custody dispute ultimately favored Houck by allowing him contact with Maupin’s child. He explained that he used the word “astonished” because evidence showed Maupin’s relationship with Houck could negatively impact the child, as Houck was already a suspect in Rogers’ disappearance. Maupin lost her job and faced harassment in the community due to her ties to Houck.

Additionally, the defense claimed Simms showed bias during Houck’s arraignment by asking a question that seemed aimed at justifying keeping Houck’s bond at the multimillion-dollar amount it was set at. Simms countered that the bond amount was appropriate given the murder charge’s severity and Houck’s wealth, which could pose a flight risk. He also cited concerns for witness safety, saying Houck’s family had previously interfered in the case.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld Simms’ bond decision, with the Attorney General’s Office agreeing there was a need to protect witnesses and ensure a fair trial. Special Prosecutor Shane Young will continue working with the Attorney General to seek justice for Rogers and her family. However, Houck’s defense continues to argue Simms is biased and should be removed from the high-profile case.

 

Source: Yahoo News