Less than a week after attorneys representing the man accused of killing 10 people at Santa Fe High School in 2018 sought to remove the judge overseeing the case, prosecutors formally opposed that request.
Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady this week filed a response to a motion to dismiss Judge Jeth Jones, arguing that the defense attorneys’ reasons for trying to remove him weren’t sufficient to show unfair bias.
“Even assuming the defendant’s allegations are true, he has not established bias or bias on Judge Jones’ part that would justify the challenge,” the motion states. “In effect, the defendant blames Judge Jones only for his remarks, unfavorable judgments, and opinions expressed with respect to efforts undertaken thus far, and proposed future efforts, to restore defendant jurisdiction.”
Defense attorneys must show not only bias, but also that judge bias denies the defendant due legal process, the motion states.
Nicholas Poehl, one of Dimitrios Pagourtzis’ lawyers, 22, accused the judge last week of being determined to hire someone to find his client competent to stand trial and moving to do so behind the scenes, although he has publicly agreed to keep Pagourtzis busy for at least another year at North Texas State Hospital in Vernon.
Jones said last week that rules on recusal motions prevent him from commenting on them. But the motion will be referred to regional court presiding judge Susan Brown for handling, Jones said.
A hearing to determine whether to approve the motion to challenge is tentatively scheduled for 9:30 am on April 20, according to Galveston County court records.
Pagourtzis was hospitalized based on mental health evaluations by three doctors.
He is facing charges of capital murder of multiple people and aggravated assault against a public official in connection with the mass shooting, according to court documents. Since November 2019 he has been hospitalized in the state hospital.
He is accused of entering Santa Fe High School on May 18, 2018, with a sawn-off shotgun and a .38 pistol, killing eight students and two teachers, and wounding 13. He admitted to being the mass shooter after the his arrest, according to court documents.