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Cases against rioters include motion to disqualify Kent County Prosecutor’s Office

A judge is being asked to disqualify the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office from some cases where defendants are charged with damaging county property.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids judge will decide if the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office should be disqualified from handling cases of people accused of damaging county-owned property during the May 30-31 riot.

Three defendants are accused of causing damage to a county-owned building at 82 Ionia Ave. NW, home to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office.

“We argue that no, they cannot prosecute impartially,’’ defense attorney Kellen Dotson said. “One with the listed victim being the Kent County government.’’

Dotson represents 22-year-old Alexandria Nicole Lyons. She’s charged with riot and malicious destruction of property for damage at 82 Ionia.

During a hearing Wednesday in Grand Rapids District Court, Dotson asked that the prosecutor’s office be disqualified from handling her case.

An assistant prosecutor is challenging that motion.

Judge Nicholas Ayoub indicated he will rule on the disqualification request at a later date. Also up for discussion was whether the hearings in Grand Rapids District Court should be held via Zoom video-conference.

Attorneys representing eight defendants charged in the Grand Rapids riot made appearances during Wednesday’s virtual court hearing. Ayoub was in the courtroom; two assistant prosecutors and the defense attorneys appeared via video.

The judge set the next round of hearings for early August. 

Fifteen adults and one juvenile have been charged in the riot, which followed a protest in downtown Grand Rapids to condemn the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

On Monday, the felony case against 23-year-old Chase Vladimir Spencer was sent to Kent County Circuit Court. He’s charged with riot and malicious destruction of a building over $1,000 for smashing a window at Urban Obsession Salon on Fountain Street NW.

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