ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Police officer charged with killing his friend and co-worker in a Russian Roulette-style shooting is requesting a new judge.
In a motion filed with the court on Monday, the defense team for Nathaniel Hendren, 29, argues Judge David Roither is biased against their client and has already "pre-determined the outcome of this case."
The motion alleges that during a Jan. 31 hearing, Roither stated in open court that he is an avid hunter and has taken many gun safety courses.
Specifically, Hendren's attorneys take issue with Roither saying that "...you never point the muzzle of a firearm towards anything that you do not intend to shoot."
The motion also alleges that Roither said he "...does not agree with or like that defense counsel has referred to this as an accident."
Hendren's defense team contends they never called the incident an accident in court and insists Roither was referring to reports he heard in the media.
The motion also alleges that Roither "...went on to state his opinion on the allegations, as if his opinions were facts," including stating that "it was not an accident when the defendant pulled the trigger."
Roither then increased Hendren's bond amount from $50,000 cash-only to $100,000 but allowed Hendren to post 10 percent to be released, according to the motion.
Hendren is charged with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in connection to the Jan. 24 shooting death of fellow St. Louis Police Officer Katlyn Alix, 24.
Hendren and his partner, Officer Patrick Riordan, were supposed to be in a different police district patrolling the community at the time.
But instead, they were all inside Hendren's apartment at 750 Dover Place when the shooting happened just before 1 a.m.
According to court filings, Hendren and Alix were taking turns firing a revolver at each other that had just one bullet inside of it.
Alix was struck in the chest and later died at SLU Hospital, according to court filings.
Hendren's attorney cite extensive media coverage of the case and Roither's "inappropriate" comments as some of the reasons for their request.
They write, "There can be no room left for doubt in this case that Judge Roither has explicit bias against the Defendant, that he is biased and prejudiced against the Defendant's potential defenses, and has already pre-determined the outcome of this case. Judge Roither, due to his own statements made knowingly in front of the media, cannot sit for motion practice or the preliminary hearing in this case and make fair judgments which are free of bias and prejudice against this defendant."
A hearing is expected on the matter at a later date. There has been no public comment from Judge Roither.
Meantime, there's another court filing that deals with evidence in the case.
As part of the discovery process, prosecutors have filed their voluntary disclosure statement to the defendant.
It details some of the items they have gathered, including 13 pages of crime scene examination, 10 pages of process for prints, 8 pages of firearm comparison and 2 pages of drug identification.