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Motion to recuse judge in sex assault case denied

A motion to recuse a judge in the trial for a 21-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting an elderly woman in 2019 at a Kawaihae campground was denied Wednesday maintaining a Nov. 30 trial date.

Trial was set to begin Nov. 30 for Zeth Browder in Third Circuit Chief Judge Robert D.S Kim’s courtroom following four continuances, however, Deputy Public Defender James Greenberg recently filed a motion to have the case heard by Judge Wendy DeWeese.

In his motion to disqualify or recuse the assigned court due to conflict of interest, Greenberg contended “the Honorable Robert Kim has a personal bias or prejudice against him in which Judge Kim’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

In the Browder case, Greenberg stated that due to Kim’s bias against him, his client cannot get a fair trial, nor can he zealously represent Browder at trial in Kim’s courtroom.

DeWeese denied the motion last Wednesday, keeping the trial date in Kim’s courtroom.

The case is being prosecuted by the Honolulu City and County Prosecutors Office because of an undisclosed conflict of interest with the Hawaii County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney. The Honolulu office had not filed a response to the motion as of press-time Wednesday.

Browder has been confined at Hawaii Community Correction Center in lieu of $166,000 bail since his arrest. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts each first-degree sexual assault and third-degree sexual assault and one count each first-degree burglary, kidnapping and tampering with evidence.

According to prosecutors and police, the female victim, reported that she had been sexually assaulted by a man who was also camping at Spencer Beach Park, a county facility in South Kohala. Police identified and subsequently charged Browder in connection with the alleged crime.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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