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Tran Walker trial

District Judge Tod Deck considers a ruling on a motion during the opening day of Tran Walker's trial on first-degree murder charges on May 2. Deck ultimately found Walker guilty, but attorneys are now looking into allegations that Deck might have represented Walker in a juvenile court matter when Deck was a lawyer.

SIOUX CITY -- Attorneys are seeking a review of Tran Walker's juvenile court records to determine whether the judge who recently found him guilty of murder might have had a conflict of interest that could lead to discussions about whether a new trial should be held.

Tran Walker

Walker

Public defender Jennifer Solberg and First Assistant Woodbury County Attorney Mark Campbell filed a joint motion to access Walker's records on Thursday after the public defender's office received an allegation that District Judge Tod Deck had represented Walker in juvenile court when Deck was a lawyer.

Chief District Judge Duane Hoffmeyer on Friday granted the request.

"We're just checking the files to see if that is true," Campbell said of the allegations.

Campbell said Monday morning they had not yet seen the files. He said he and Solberg would report their findings to the court once they complete their review.

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If Deck did represent Walker at some point, Campbell and/or Solberg could argue his involvement in the old cases was a conflict of interest and should have led him to recuse himself from the murder case.

Hoffmeyer appointed Deck to preside over the case in February 2018, three months after Deck was appointed to the bench. Walker later waived his right to have a jury decide his case, and Deck presided over the trial.

Deck found Walker, 19, of Sioux City, guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the Jan. 28, 2018, stabbing deaths of his ex-girlfriend Paiten Sullivan, 17, and mutual friend Felipe Negron Jr., 18, both of Sioux City. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 20 in Woodbury County District Court. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

In his verdict, announced Aug. 1, Deck ruled that Walker's actions were deliberate and premeditated, based in part on the fact that he stabbed Sullivan 43 times and Negron 17 times.

"The defendant's actions in stabbing the victims were not accidental, justified or excused," Deck said in his verdict. "The defendant brought the weapon with him. The harm was foreseeable. He stabbed the victims intentionally. The stabbings were for no other purpose than to do physical harm."

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