Powerful Judge Takes Himself Off Ron Killings' Criminal Case
Judge David Bragg
by Nick Beres
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A powerful judge has recused himself from a high profile case involving former Rutherford County sheriff's detective Ron Killings.
Killings hit and killed 11-year-old Lakeisha White with his car nearly two years ago in Murfreesboro. Prosecutors charged him with reckless homicide. Judge David Bragg presided over the trial. The jury found Killings not guilty.
But Killings is still charged with filing a false report and tampering with evidence for allegedly removing a bottle of tequila from his car. Tests found Killings was not drunk at the time of the crash.
Judge Bragg was set to hear the arguments in the case, but he suddenly filed an order of recusal taking him off the case. Bragg would not say why he filed the order.
"I think it's good he's off the case," said Lakeisha White's aunt Kim Coleman.
Coleman has wanted Bragg off the case since the local newspaper ran a story on Sheriff Truman Jones introducing Judge Bragg during the annual Peace Officer's Memorial last month.
Killings worked for the sheriff before resigning. Coleman believes the sheriff made clear during his introduction that he is close to Bragg and that he influenced the judge to favor Killings during the first criminal trial.
"He brought stuff about how he and Bragg were friends and a friend will cover for another friend," said Coleman.
Officials said there is absolutely no indication the sheriff or the judge did anything wrong. Even the prosecutor Joe Baugh commended the judge for the job he did during the trial.
Rutherford County presiding Judge Royce Taylor will select a new judge at a hearing later in June. It is possible that judge could come from outside the county. If that happens, the remaining cases against Killings will be delayed for months so the new judge can review all the evidence in the case.