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Badge & Bar: Accused in taxi cab slaying file for judge recusal, separate trials
5 indicted seek individual trials
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Five people indicted in the death of a Taxi El Palmar driver filed motions recently related to a new judge presiding over the case and to have separate trials.

Misty Sunshine Moran, 39, Margarita Jean Leanos, 28, Nicholas Allen Gonzalez, 24, Justin John Adams, 22, and Ignacio Mondragon, 21, face a charge of felony murder in connection with the death of Isaias Tovar-Murillo on March 15.

All five have waived formal arraignment and pleaded not guilty.

Moran, also known as Misty Sunshine Banda-Lopez, faces an additional count of felony murder and a count of malice murder.

Authorities believe Moran shot Tovar-Murillo in and around the back of the head, according to warrants and the indictment, after a planned robbery.

Moran and attorney C. David Turk III filed a motion for disqualification and recusal of Superior Court Judge Jason Deal from the case.

The motion is based on a witness in the case who is currently in Deal’s Drug Court.

A probation officer sent an email to Deal and other treatment court personnel about the witness moving out of Moran’s home.

“As a result of Judge Deal’s personal/extra-judicial knowledge of this witness from her participation in the Drug Court Program it would further call the Court’s objectivity into question,” according to Turk’s motion.

Deal signed an order on May 13 transferring the case to Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller.

Adams filed a motion to separate the parties, claiming that “confusion as to the law and evidence applicable to each Defendant will result unless a severance is granted.”

Hall Fire Services promotes 1st woman to chief officer

A 17-year veteran of Hall County Fire Services on Tuesday became the first woman to be a chief officer in the department’s history.

Christie Grice, formerly a captain, was promoted to battalion chief of business services.

“Chief Grice is a true professional who will be an asset to the department and Hall County for years to come in her new role,” Hall County Fire Chief Jeff Hood said in a news release. “She brings a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience to the administrative division.”

Grice served most recently as the emergency medical services coordinator for the department since February 2014.

Police to host 2nd annual Junior Police Academy

In hopes of building stronger relationships with the youth and law enforcement, the Gainesville Police Department is hosting its second annual Junior Police Academy in two weeks.

The department’s free program takes people between the ages of 14 and 18 and teaches them the ins and outs of law enforcement in Gainesville.

“We try to keep it as hands-on as much as possible from K-9s to the firing range, pretty much every aspect of what we do in law enforcement,” Gainesville Police spokesman Cpl. Kevin Holbrook said.

From last year, Holbrook said he noticed connections made by students and their school resource officers who were able to help a friend in need.

The academy is 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. from June 8-12.

The deadline for applications is Monday, and the class is limited to 20 participants.

Registration forms can be found at or at the department’s 701 Queen City Parkway lobby in Gainesville.

Nick Watson covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: