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Published: Wednesday, 10/1/2003

Lucas judge recuses self in killer's re-sentencing

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates yesterday recused himself in the re-sentencing of convicted murderer Jerry Comer.

The judge said the defendant asked that another judge impose the sentence because Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates, the judge's wife, had input on legal briefs opposing the defendant's appeal. Sentencing will be assigned to another judge.

Judge Bates, in August, 1999, sentenced Comer to 15 years to life in prison for murder and an additional seven years for aggravated robbery of the murder victim. He ordered those sentences to run consecutively.

In August, the Ohio Supreme Court voted 4-3 that Judge Bates was required by state law to explain his reasoning in court for imposing the sentences consecutively and giving a first offender more than the minimum sentence.

Comer was convicted in the 1997 murder of Ralph Miller, 23. Comer has maintained his innocence, but admitted being at the scene of the crime.

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