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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Freeman shooting trial judge will remain on case despite claims he made biased statements

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 30, 2020

Caleb Sharpe, 15, walks into a packed Spokane County Juvenile Courtroom on Sept. 27, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Caleb Sharpe, 15, walks into a packed Spokane County Juvenile Courtroom on Sept. 27, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane County Superior Court judge assigned to the first-degree murder trial of Caleb Sharpe will remain on the case, despite a motion from defense attorneys alleging the judge made biased statements about evidence and premeditation while deciding to try Sharpe as an adult.

Sharpe is accused of killing Sam Strahan and injuring three girls in a shooting at Freeman High School in 2017. Judge Michael Price agreed in September to delay the four-week-long trial for a year after Sharpe’s private attorney resigned. The trial is now scheduled for Oct. 5.

Price ruled Sharpe would stand trial as an adult in July.

One of Sharpe’s new attorneys, Deputy Spokane County Public Defender Brooke Foley, filed a motion for Price to recuse himself from the case in November, according to court documents.

The motion argued, in part, that Price couldn’t be impartial at trial due to statements during the July declination hearing concluding – before Sharpe’s attorneys could present their defense – that Sharpe planned the shooting, a “wealth of evidence” supported the case and law enforcement’s investigation was irreproachable.

Sharpe submitted a certificate in support of the motion, saying “Based on comments made by Judge Price in the courtroom, I do not believe he is wholly disinterested in the outcome of this case.”

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office countered that defense attorneys should have filed the motion before receiving two adverse rulings and Price made his comments in the context of his decision to try Sharpe as an adult.

Price denied the motion during a hearing last Thursday, saying it lacked “merit and authority.”

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