LAFAYETTE COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - A judge has recused himself from presiding over a murder trial involving a former Oxford police officer.
Judge Andrew Howorth came under fire Wednesday after the initial hearing for Matthew Kinne. Kinne is charged with murdering 32-year-old Dominique Clayton. Her family says he shot her as she slept.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Clayton’s family criticized Howorth for not taking the case seriously, seemingly laughing during the hearing and allowing a discussion on bond.
"He made everyone feel a certain type of way. This is not a laughing matter. This is murder. He should have been serious. He’s a disgrace to the bench,” Bessie Clayton, victim’s mother.
According to the recusal order, Clayton’s family requested Howorth “get off this case.” Howorth signed the document, which states he recused himself so as not to negatively impact the trial.
Kinne worked as a police officer in Oxford since 2015 and was named mounted officer of the year last year. He was a day after his arrest.
The interim police chief of Oxford says the department is behind Clayton’s family.
“Kinne committed murder,” said Interim Police Chief Jeff McCutchen. “We do not want him out and we support them (the Clayton family) and we will stand by them.”
Clayton's family has obtained new representation by Carlos Moore of Grenada, Mississippi.
Moore also represented the family of Darrius Stewart, who was shot and killed by a Memphis policer officer during a traffic stop.
On his Facebook page, he posted, “Flying home. Battles to fight in Oxford.”
A bond hearing for Kinne is scheduled for next week.
One of the two remaining circuit court judges in Oxford will preside over that hearing, now that Howorth has recused himself.
A press conference will be held Friday at 2:30 p.m.
WMC Action News 5 reached out to Kinne's attorney for a comment about the judge changes.
We were told that they had no comment, due to it being an ongoing investigation.