- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - A judge has recused himself from a former deputy’s domestic assault case because he received Facebook messages from the deputy’s wife.

Former Berkeley County sheriff’s deputy Robert Lippman is charged with assaulting his wife and threatening to shoot her. Lippman was indicted in May of domestic battery, wanton endangerment and assault. Lippman is accused of choking his wife and jamming the barrel of a loaded handgun into her chest. He also is accused of smothering her with a pillow, slamming her face into a piece of furniture, and striking her with his fists, the indictment said. His trial is set to begin Dec. 1.

The recusal offered by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge John C. Yoder in the state’s case against Lippman and a separate move by the Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to disqualify the judge came about a week after Yoder disclosed last month to attorneys that Lippman’s wife had sent him messages via the social media website.

Yoder released a copy of messages at a hearing in October, according to the Herald-Mail (https://bit.ly/1MRMsSg). The wife said in one message, sent March 17, “I’m sorry that I deleted you. I had to dissociate myself from some. There is a lot going on and I don’t know who is my friend and who isn’t.”

On the day before Lippman’s arraignment, his wife sent Yoder a message saying she wanted the case to be over and “my husband get better.”

Yoder said he did not respond to the messages.

In an order of recusal and transfer filed with the circuit clerk’s office on Oct. 22, Yoder said “while no actual bias or prejudice exists, the appearance of judicial neutrality would best be served by the voluntary recusal of the undersigned judge.”

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Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., https://www.herald-mail.com

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