By Max Hrenda
Two circuit court judges have recused themselves from presiding over a criminal court case after the defendant was
charged with trying to solicit the murder of one of their bailiffs.
On Thursday morning, before presiding over the docket in criminal court, Judge Robert Cupp announced that he was recusing himself from a case against former U.S. Senate candidate Thomas Kenneth “T.K.” Owens after Owens was charged with attempting to solicit the murder of Carter County Sheriff’s Deputy Ernie Widby – his uncle – who works as a bailiff in Carter County Circuit Court.
Cupp also announced that fellow Circuit Court Judge Stacy Street would not preside over Owens’ prior case because of Widby’s working relationship with both judges.
“That’s one that I just couldn’t handle any more,” Cupp said. “Judge Street is the same way. Judge (Jon Kerry) Blackwood will hear that matter.”
On May 31, 2011, Owens was arrested and charged with the attempted solicitation of a minor. The case had originally been scheduled to be heard on Thursday, but after Owens was arrested on Aug. 23 on the solicitation to commit murder charge, it was reassigned.