VERO BEACH — The attorney for Kaitlyn Hunt is strongly objecting to a presiding judge's decision to set a date for the start of the her teen-sex trial in September — a date the attorney says is unfair and premature, setting it before more than 200 other criminal cases.
Hunt's attorney Julia Graves, is calling for Circuit Judge Robert Pegg to take himself off the case in a court motion.
Graves said she was not consulted about the trial's start date for jury selection and now Hunt is apprehensive that Pegg "is biased against the defendant and has departed from his role as a neutral" overseer of the case, the attorney wrote in a motion signed Monday.
The defense attorney said her motion is postured so that Pegg must only rule on the legal basis of her motion, not on the truth of the alleged facts.
The attorney contends Pegg is following the lead of prosecutors she says have singled out Hunt's case "due to the fact that the relationship involved was between two girls attending high school together."
"Otherwise there is nothing unique about this matter," the motion states.
Hunt, who was 18 at the time, is accused of breaking state law by having sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl, who was her classmate at the time at Sebastian River High School.
Prosecutors have said the case is about the law being violated, not about the gender of those involved. The case started earlier this year when the younger girl's parents took her to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office to talk about her alleged sexual relations with Hunt.
The case then was handed over to the State Attorney's Office for prosecution. Hunt is charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery, each of which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, if convicted.
Hunt declined the State Attorney's offer of a plea to a lesser felony. Graves said it should be a misdemeanor case.
The defense attorney argues that the assistant state attorney assigned to the case, Brian Workman, has many other cases assigned to him, including people in jail awaiting trial.
"Pushing this particular case (Hunt's) confirms the prejudice with which this case is being pursued by the state."
According to Graves, she handled a similar case, involving a young male defendant and a female victim, that took 19 months to conclude.
Attached to the attorney's motion is a list of 288 other felony cases pending in court ranging from burglary to first-degree murder.