A preliminary hearing was scheduled in Bond County Circuit Court Monday afternoon in the murder case of James Andrew Hickman, age 27 of Greenville.
The hearing was not held and court time concluded with the judge bowing out of the case, upon the request of Hickman’s attorney.
Hickman faces two first degree murder charges. It’s alleged that on November 16 the defendant shook his two-month old son knowing the act created a strong probability of great bodily harm, and a strong probability of death, thereby causing the infant’s death.
Judge Ronald Slemer was ready to preside at the preliminary hearing Monday afternoon. He began by announcing he had served as Hickman’s court-appointed attorney in a 2012 Bond County criminal case. Hickman’s attorney, Rick Verticchio, made an oral motion requesting that Slemer recuse himself from the case.
Bond County State’s Attorney Dora Mann and Assistant State’s Attorney Keith Jensen represented the state. Jensen commented the defendant is entitled by law to a change of judge.
It was noted during the discussion that newly sworn in Resident Judge Chris Bauer had already recused himself from the case since he was state’s attorney when the charges were filed.
Judge Slemer told the parties he had no problem being judge in the Hickman murder case because it has been several years since he represented the defendant.
Attorney Verticchio responded that Slemer has a unique relationship with the defendant and allegedly questioned if the judge could be impartial in the case.
Judge Slemer commented that the allegation of him being biased and prejudiced in the case is not accurate.
State’s Attorney Mann said the state had no objection to the motion of the defense.
In the end Judge Slemer allowed the motion and recused himself from the case. The chief judge of the Third Judicial Circuit will appoint a new judge and then another date for a preliminary hearing will be scheduled.