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Judge removes himself from cases of men charged with murdering Youngstown realtor

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge James Evans is removing himself from hearing the cases of two men charged in connection with the robbery and murder of a Youngstown real estate agent.

Earlier this month, 21 News reported that family and friends of Vivian Martin demanded to know why has it taken more than three years to bring Grant Cooper and Robert Brooks to trial.  The men are charged with aggravated murder, arson and kidnapping. The suspects could face the death penalty if convicted.

Martin was 67-years-old when Cooper and  Brooks allegedly lured her to an east side home in September of 2010.  Police say Martin was killed during a robbery, and the home was set on fire, allegedly to conceal the crimes.

Judge Evans has filed a judgement entry in which he recuses himself from  both cases, and asks that a visiting judge be appointed to hear future proceedings against the two suspects.  In his entry, Judge Evans does not give a reason for removing himself from the cases.

Trial delays are being blamed in part on difficulties obtaining  medical records of the suspects, which prosecutors say could be used as a basis to appeal a conviction.

Pretrial hearings are scheduled for June 13 for Grant Cooper and June 17 for Robert Brooks.

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