DA, judges recused from murder case

Published 12:10 am Saturday, August 27, 2016

VIDALIA — The Seventh Judicial district attorney and two judges have been recused from a murder case due to a connection with the alleged killer’s father.

Hartwell Layne Tiffee, 34, 679 Louisiana 907, was arrested in June for second-degree murder connected with the killing of 26-year-old Duell Moreland of Monterey.

District Attorney Brad Burget was recused Wednesday by the court order of Judge Robert Kostelka from Monroe, La.

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Defense attorney Clinton Magoun of Ferriday made the motion to recuse Burget because the district attorney’s office is partially funded by the Concordia Parish Police Jury and Burget is also the legal advisor for the police jury. Tiffee’s father — Red Tiffee — is the Ward 5B police juror of Monterey.

Burget said Thursday he did not recuse himself voluntarily because he believed he could prosecute the case.

“I don’t see a conflict,” he said. “I thought I could do a fair job.”

Magoun said Friday having Burget recused was just a step that needed to be taken in the case.

From here, Magoun said the Louisiana Attorney General’s office would appoint someone from within the office or another sitting district attorney in Louisiana to prosecute

Once a state prosecutor is appointed, he or she will choose whether or not to move the case to the grand jury, which will decide if Tiffee is indicted for second-degree murder.

Burget said Thursday his office had not received the case file on Tiffee from the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office. Should he receive it, Burget said he would forward it to the attorney general’s office.

Earlier in August, Seventh Judicial District judges Kathy Johnson and John Reeves recused themselves from the trial. The Concordia Parish Police Jury funds a majority of the district judges’ office. Johnson recused herself Aug. 9 and Reeves Aug. 10.

Moreland’s body was found in a bayou off of Peale Cross Road in Monterey in April.

Moreland went missing from his grandparents’ residence on March 29. He reportedly received a number of phone calls that evening before leaving the residence, which is where he primarily lived.

After a month of searching, Moreland’s body — mostly skeletal remains — was found in late April by his grandfather, Rufus “Buddy” Tiffee, who received a tip from a family friend and organized a boat expedition.

Hartwell Tiffee was in jail Friday on a $670,000 bond.