MEDINA, Ohio - Just a week before James Kimbler was to re-sentence former high school cheerleader Audrey Iacona, he announced that he was stepping down as the presiding judge in the case.
It's a decision that pleased Iacona's family because it could mean that Audrey, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for killing her baby, might very well be released after spending just the last two years behind bars, 19/43 News' Paul Orlousky reported.
Kimbler reflected on his decision to step aside for 30 minutes with reporters on Monday. It's a call that he said was made after much reflection and prayer.
Kimbler said that he did nothing wrong, and that defense attorney Niki Schwartz's petition to the Supreme Court to remove him was filled with supposition, innuendo and personal attacks -- a strategy he said that he resents.
"Since March of 1998, when Mr. Schwartz became Miss Iacona's attorney, he is defending her by claiming every other participant in this case did something wrong," Kimbler said.
"I am confident that when the dust cleared, Chief Justice Moyer would not remove me from the Iacona case."
Physically, the move of the Iacona sentencing simply transfers the case from Kimbler's courtroom into the courtroom of presiding judge Christopher Collier. In the minds of the defense, however, the move is not only physical, but symbolic as well.
"It's obviously the best thing for everyone concerned, in my opinion," Audrey's father, Mark Iacona, said.
Mark said he hopes that Kimbler's comments, ones that he characterizes as adversarial, won't carry over into the new courtroom.
"It puts a lot of pressure on him to overcome that view of us against Medina County," Mark said of Collier. "It still has to be a fair sentence for Audrey, too."