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Judge in Lincoln County murder case recuses herself from hearing motion for new trial

Judge in Lincoln County murder case recuses herself from hearing motion for new trial

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LINCOLN COUNTY • The judge who presided over the murder trial of a Lincoln County man convicted of killing his wife has recused herself from hearing a motion for a new trial in the case.

Circuit Court Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer filed a motion Monday that said after reviewing Russell Faria's request for a new trial, she has "a known conflict and must recuse" and requested a transfer to another judge.

The nature of the conflict is unclear, and Mennemeyer declines to comment.

Faria won a step toward a new trial last month when an appeals court ruled that newly discovered evidence could produce a different verdict in a retrial.

The Missouri Court of Appeals in St. Louis sent the case back to the trial judge for a hearing on a retrial motion.

Defense lawyer Joel Schwartz filed a motion for a new trial on Wednesday.

Faria, 45, is serving a sentence of life without parole at the Jefferson City Correctional Center.

Questions about his conviction were the subject of a joint Post-Dispatch-KTVI Fox 2 investigation last year.

Prosecutors said Faria stabbed his terminally ill wife, Betsy Faria, 55 times with a serrated knife on Dec. 27, 2011.

But Faria, his lawyers and his alibi witnesses have long argued that he was miles away when his wife died — and that the killer was more likely someone else.

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