New judge in Stanley Dishon case also likely to step aside because of link to case
SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It appears state officials will have to find a judge from outside Bullitt County to handle the Stanley Dishon murder case because both local circuit court judges have ties to the case.
A day after Circuit Judge Rodney Burress recused himself, attorneys for Dishon said they will ask the new judge, Elise Givhan Spainhour, to remove herself if she doesn't step aside.
Spainhour is married to attorney John Spainhour, who represented David "Bucky" Brooks, who was originally charged with killing Jessica Dishon.
Attorney Jennifer Wittmeyer said Givhan would likely recuse herself, further delaying the arraignment of Stanley Dishon, and state officials would have to find a judge with no ties to the case to come handle it.
Elise Spainhour did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment but a woman who answered the phone in her office said a recusal notice would likely be entered in the file soon.
Bullitt Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Mann said his office "has not decided anything" as to whether it will oppose or request the recusal of Elise Spainhour.
Wittmeyer said John Spainhour has been giving statements to the media about the case and may have turned over to police some of his office's investigative files.
Spainhour has said the defense team's investigators briefly looked at Stanley Dishon but were "led in a different direction," to two men, James Coulter and Jason Dunford, who were seen with Jessica the night before she disappeared.
And Wittmeyer said Brooks and his trial will be a factor in the defense's case, arguing there is "zero evidence" showing Stanley Dishon was involved but Brooks "failed a lie detector test" during the initial investigation.
Mike Mann said his office was not going to make any comment on the evidence in the case.
Prior to becoming a judge, Burress represented Bullitt Co. Sheriff's Detective Charles Mann in a contempt of court case because Mann had testified during the Brooks trial that he had failed a polygraph test.
That information was inadmissible in court and led the judge to declare a mistrial. Charges were dropped in 2003.
Despite the prosecution's objection, Burress said he was going to err on the side of caution and remove himself from the case.
"I'm taking your word as an officer of the court that this defendant's defense rests upon the issues that were raised by Det. Mann with the court," said Burress.
No new arraignment date has been set. The case file was unavailable early Tuesday as it was in Elise Spainhour's office.
Leigh Anne Hiatt, a spokesperson for the state Administrative Office of the Courts, said if Spainhour recuses herself, the case will be sent to the chief regional judge who will assign it to a different judge, likely from a neighboring county, such as Jefferson.
If no one else is available, Hiatt said a retired senior status judge could be assigned to the case.
Stanley Dishon remains in jail on a $250,000 bond. He is also facing a sexual abuse charge in a separate case.
Jessica was last seen at the family's Shepherdsville home as she was preparing to go to school on Sept. 10, 1999. Her body was found 17 days later, about seven miles from her home, in a dumping ground known as the Salt River bottoms.
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