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Judge steps down in double slaying case

Associated Press

HOPKINSVILLE - The judge overseeing a 20-year-old double slaying case involving two former Oak Grove police officers has decided to step aside.

Christian Circuit Judge John Atkins made the decision Tuesday after a second request from defense attorneys, who noted Atkins' involvement with the prosecutor's office at the time of the killings and said it was possible he could be called as a witness. They cited a new report with a witness who said Atkins spoke with her about one of the men charged.

"There is nothing in the original case file that indicates that anybody ever said a darn thing to me," Atkins said. "Now, all of a sudden, somebody comes up with a report saying, 'Oh yeah, we talked to him back at the time. Well, if it was important enough to mention it last week, wouldn't you think it would have been important enough to mention at the time (20 years ago), which it wasn't?"

"Am I supposed to dignify sloppy police work (by) jumping off the boat?" he asked.

Atkins wasn't involved in investigating the case and said he has no memory of how it was handled, but had no choice but to recuse himself given the circumstances.

"But I've got news for you, when you come to interview me, I'm going to tell you I don't remember anything," the judge told attorneys.

Two former officers, Edward T. Carter and Leslie A. Duncan, and a third man, Frank J. Black Jr., are charged in the 1994 slayings of 22-year-old Candace Belt and 18-year-old Gloria Ross at the New Life Fitness and Massage Parlor.

Remaining motions in the case will be decided by Christian Circuit Judge Andrew Self.

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