Northeast Ohio judge accused of bias by county prosecutors steps aside in death penalty case

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AKRON, Ohio — A judge in Akron accused of bias by county prosecutors has voluntarily stepped aside in a pending death-penalty case.

The Akron Beacon Journal ( ) reports that Summit County Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands on Tuesday notified the Ohio Supreme Court of her withdrawal from the case of an Akron man facing aggravated murder charges in the drug-related slayings of four people last year.

In a letter to the court, Rowlands wrote that she was stepping aside because of the "complexity of the matter" and the "gravity of the issues involved."

Rowlands had countered prosecutors' claims, including that she wants them to drop death-penalty specifications in the trial of 22-year-old Deshanon Haywood.

Haywood's co-defendant, Derrick Brantley, who was identified as the principal gunman, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Information from: Akron Beacon Journal,

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