Motion for Judge's Recusal Filed in Armandariz Sentencing

A motion for recusal was filed Tuesday afternoon by the defense counsel for Gabriel Armandariz.

The motion essentially means Amandariz's defense attorneys want 90th District Judge for Young County, Stephen Bristow, removed from the trial. The motion filed by the defense states numerous reasons why Judge Bristow is not impartial, or fair to Armandariz and/or the defense counsel

"Judge Bristow is so biased and prejudiced against the defendant and/or defense council that a fair trial cannot be had with the defendant," according to the document filed. The tension started building early Tuesday morning after the defense council rested their case during day seven of sentencing. 

After the defense counsel rested, the state started calling on rebuttal witnesses. The witnesses called to the stand were alleging that Armandariz committed another gruesome act prior to the murder of his two children. 

Those witnesses alleged that Armandariz sexually assaulted a young child nearly 12 years ago, during the time Armandariz was married to Rosie Laureles. The victim and his family members will not be identified in order to protect their identities. The victim, the victim's mother, sister and an investigator that handled the case were called to the stand Tuesday. 

The witnesses said that the sexual assault happened when the victim was roughly 7-years-old. Once on the stand, the victim, who is now an adult, could barely get the words out as he recounted the assault. He told the jury Amandariz took him in a back room of a home and forced himself on him. Since that time, the victim's mother says everything changed with her son. He went from a loving young boy to a distant and fragile boy. Something that, she said, has followed him as he aged. 

After the assault, the victim said he didn't tell anyone until years later. In 2012 the victim told his sister, who in turn told their mother. The mother called and started an investigation with a Texas Ranger. The testimony of those victims led the defense council to object, but Judge Bristow allowed the witnesses to testify. 

The fact that Judge Bristow allowed that witness outraged Armandariz's defense attorneys, something they also outlined in their motion. "Judge Bristows obvious lack of surprise...indicates ex-parte communication between the state and Judge."

The defense council notified Judge Bristow on numerous occasions during testimony that they were not able to effectively defend those allegations. They said the state announced this extraneous offense earlier in the trial process and Judge Bristow ruled it inadmissible. The heated exchange between the defense attorneys, the state and Judge Bristow led to the third point alluded to in the motion filed. "The judge yelled at defense counsel loud enough for jurors to hear through walls."

Administrative Judge Evans was then called to the Tarrant County courtroom Tuesday after the defense filed the motion for the recusal of Judge Bristow. Outside the presence of the jury, the defense called both prosecutors to the stand. They testified on the conversations they had with Judge Bristow, outside the courtroom setting, and about their rebuttal witnesses. Defense Attorney Terri Moore also called on her co-counsel, Joetta Keene. Keene told the court that they were unprepared for the rebuttal witnesses the state brought to the stand.

After an hour and a half of testimony, Judges Evans said he did not find any bias or prejudice with Judge Bristow's ruling.

Testimony will continue Wednesday, with closing arguments expected.