SULLIVAN COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – The District Attorney’s Office in Sullivan County can no longer serve as the prosecuting attorneys in the case of a man on death row for the murder a police officer more than a decade ago.
In late September, Nikolaus Johnson’s attorneys argued before a judge to get District Attorney General Barry Staubus, his office, and his predecessor Greeley Wells removed from the case as it moves forward to a post-conviction hearing.
In 2004, police charged Johnson with first-degree murder in the death of Bristol Tennessee police officer Mark Vance. Johnson was sentenced to death in 2007.
Johnson’s attorneys said the D.A.’s office looked at sealed records that they weren’t allowed to look at after the trial.
And late Friday night, Judge Beck issued an order saying Staubus and Wells “became privy to confidential information which has created a conflict of interest on their part.”
“Judge Beck ordered I and my office be recused from the Nikolaus Johnson post conviction and as a result of that I will seek to have the District Attorney’s Conference select new council to substitute to continue on with litigation,” Stubus said.
Staubus said he is not seeking an appeal of the the judge’s decision.
The District Attorney’s Conference in Nashville will now select new prosecutors.
Johnson’s attorney told us as of right now he can’t comment on what the defense plans to do moving forward.
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