June 25, 2016

Mostly clear

Judge recuses himself from stabbing case

MEDINA — A judge has withdrawn from the case of a homeless man who pleaded no contest last month to stabbing a 31-year-old man at an unsanctioned campsite in the woods near Brunswick Lake in September.

Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler on Thursday transferred Karl Phelps’ case to Judge Christopher J. Collier’s docket because he thought he was too involved in the case to remain impartial.

“I’m moving this case across the hall because frankly I was involved in plea negotiations on this case and don’t want to hear any more,” Kimbler told the court at Phelps’ Thursday sentencing hearing.

Prior to moving the case, county Assistant Prosecutor Michael McNamara said Phelps stabbed the man after an argument.

“(The victim) is lucky he’s not dead after being stabbed in the heart,” McNamara told the judge, “and frankly Mr. Phelps is lucky, too.”

He said that’s because if the man had died, Phelps probably would be charged with murder.

Phelps, 27, was convicted of two counts of second-degree felonious assault at a Jan. 6 change-of-plea hearing. He faced up to eight years in prison.

Police arrested Phelps after a two-hour search Sept. 4 following the stabbing.

In December, an accomplice of Phelps, 32-year-old Joshua James, of Brunswick, was sentenced to time served in jail for helping Phelps pack up the campsite where the stabbing happened in order to avoid police detection.

James was convicted of obstructing justice, a fifth-degree felony punishable by up to a year in prison.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.

Nick Glunt About Nick Glunt

Nick Glunt primarily covers courts and crime in Medina County. He served The Gazette from September 2012 to December 2015. Contact him at (330) 721-4048 or via email at nglunt@medina-gazette.com.