Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich announced Friday that she has recused her office from a new trial of a murder case saying the office's involvement in the case has become a "distraction"
Two convictions of accused murderer Michael Dale Rimmer have been overturned. Shelby County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Henderson argued the government's case in both.
Last month Henderson was reprimanded by the Tennessee Supreme Court after he pleaded guilty to the charges of misconduct and violating state rules governing prosecutors in the murder trials.
For this, he got a censure, a “public rebuke and warning,” from the court’s Board of Professional Responsibility. He was also ordered to pay the expenses associated with the matter back to the board, an amount that totaled $1,745.07.
Weirich said Henderson’s actions were not responsible for the turnovers in the Rimmer case. But, she said, the attention generated by Henderson's censure had become a "distraction."
“In this case and in every case, our job is to ensure that justice is done,” Weirich said. “The continued involvement by our office in this case, has and would create a distraction that the victims and the citizens of Shelby County do not deserve.”
She said Friday she asked for and was granted a special prosecutor on the Rimmer case from the District Attorney General’s Conference this week.
Weirich said she talked about her decision Thursday night with the son and daughter of Ricci Ellsworth, the woman Rimmer has been convicted of murdering.
Weirich has said many times she will not punish Henderson and repeated that course of action in Friday’s news conference.
“He has been punished by the Board of Professional Responsibility, is enduring a public censure, and is facing financial penalties,” Weirich said. “Furthermore, I removed him from handling this case several months ago. To a career prosecutor, that is punishment in and of itself.”