Judge Won't Recuse Herself in Tri-Cities Murder Trial - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Judge Won't Recuse Herself in Tri-Cities Murder Trial

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A Benton County judge says she won't recuse herself in the murder trial for 19-year-old Joshua Hunt just because her stepson, who is a police detective, was at the murder scene back in July. A Benton County judge says she won't recuse herself in the murder trial for 19-year-old Joshua Hunt just because her stepson, who is a police detective, was at the murder scene back in July.

RICHLAND, WA – An upcoming murder trial has hit a potential snag.

During a pre-trial hearing Wednesday, the lead detective in the case mentioned Richland Police Detective Scott Runge as among some of the initial responders.

Detective Runge is the stepson of Benton County Superior Court Judge Carrie Runge, the presiding judge in the case.

Runge says her stepson's name had never appeared in any pre-trial documents and this was the first time she had heard his name mentioned. Runge declined to recuse herself, saying her stepson's involvement was limited, and hasn't been scheduled to testify at the trial.

Runge did tell the defense attorney he has the option to file an affidavit requesting she be removed from the case.

Benton County sheriff's deputies arrested Josh Hunt, 19, and another teenager last Fourth of July. Prosecutors say Hunt and John Young, 18, murdered Joshua Snapp, 17, in a remote area of Horn Rapids.

Detectives say Hunt and Young took turns shooting Snapp in a dispute over drugs and money.

Sheriff's deputies later arrested the two teenagers in Benton City. A few days later, divers recovered a backpack in the Yakima River in Benton City, where they found the gun they believe Hunt and Young used to kill Snapp.

Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller says he plans to add a firearms enhancement charge, which, if convicted, would add five years to Hunt's prison term.   

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