Man charged with attempted murder of trooper wants judge off case

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 December 2013 at 12:00 am


ALBION – A Kendall man accused of attempted murder of a state trooper requested that Orleans County Court Judge James Punch recuse himself from the case due to his past history in court with the defendant.

Carlos Botello, 42, has a lengthy criminal history that dates back to when Punch was district attorney. Punch has been the county court judge for 23 years.

Botello was charged with second-degree attempted murder of a state trooper following a traffic stop on Sept. 3. Botello was stopped by Trooper Dan Metz. Botello allegedly attempted to back over the trooper. Metz avoided being struck, but Borello smashed into a state police vehicle.

Botello then fled the scene by vehicle. Metz pursued the suspect until Botello entered into a farmer’s field and became disabled, police reported.

Punch said Botello’s paperwork filed with the court, seeking a recusal from the judge, was “gibberish” and “gobbledygook” that didn’t make a lot of sense.

But the judge said he would consider the substance of the issue, whether his past history with Botello warrants a recusal. But only if Botello consults with his attorney Nathan Pace and makes a strong case for recusal.

Botello in court today said Punch was DA and prosecuted him in a different matter in the 1980s.

“The time has long since dissipated if there is any position of conflict,” Punch responded to Botello.

Punch was the judge in another high-profile case with Botello in 1994. Botello was 23 when he fired six rounds into the home of Deputy Herb McClellan in Kendall.

He has been in and out of the court system several times. In one court appearance, Botello said the judge declared in court if Botello was ever in front of him again, the judge would put him away in prison for a long time. Botello said that is grounds for Punch to recuse himself.

Punch said he wants to see the transcripts from that sentencing, and if he made that statement to Botello, Punch said he would “look at it” and consider the request for recusal.

But Punch said he doubts he would recuse himself.

“I feel I can be fair and impartial,” Punch said in court.

He gave Botello and Pace until Jan. 6 to file a motion for recusal.

Punch said he rarely recuses himself.

“Mr. Botello, I’m the only judge in this county,” Punch said. “I can’t just send it across the hall. I’m only going to recuse when I have to recuse.”