FAIRFIELD — The Solano County District Attorney’s Office lost its bid Friday to get a judge removed from a murder case that has been embroiled in controversy related to the doctor who conducted most of the autopsies in Solano County homicide cases since 2008.
The Court of Appeal faulted prosecutors for not following the law, saying they should have taken their bid to recuse Judge Daniel Healy to another Solano County court instead of taking it to the Court of Appeal. The appellate court then rejected the recusal effort.
“. . .(B)ased on a review of the record, in particular the transcripts of the relevant hearings, the court concludes as a matter of law that the statements by Judge Healy cited by petitioner, when read in context, do not rise to a level requiring disqualification.”
Prosecutors accused Healy of showing bias at recent hearings about the coroner controversy and for “repeatedly offering gratuitous opinions” about the coroner controversy before hearing testimony in the case of Michael Daniels.
Daniels is accused of killing his girlfriend in 2012 while they were staying at a Vallejo hotel. Police and prosecutors believe Daniels suffocated his girlfriend. Daniels’ defense attorneys claim she suffocated in her own vomit after drinking heavily and passing out.
Prosecutors took exception at Healy characterizing their meeting with Susan Hogan, who did the autopsy, as an effort to get her to change her opinion about the cause of death.
“In this case,” Healy said, “the records suggest that the members of the prosecution and law enforcement met with Dr. Hogan in an effort to cause her to change her opinion, then (had her testify) at preliminary hearing to support the murder charge without disclosing or providing discovery regarding this meeting to the defense.”
The trial is set to start Monday.
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