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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Russell stays on as judge in Mook case

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A judge has refused to remove himself from a custody dispute involving the ex-husband of a missing Harris Middle School teacher who was ordered to stay away from his child.

Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell has not announced a new date for a hearing in the matter, which will have to wait until Tyler Mook has exhausted the appeals process to have Russell recuse himself from the case.

Mook is the ex-husband of Shelly Mook, who disappeared in early 2011.

Authorities have said that Tyler is considered a "person of interest" in the disappearance.

Earlier this month, a temporary restraining order was signed against Mook by Russell. The order prevents Tyler Mook and his parents from having any contact with the child, who has been the focus of a custody dispute since Shelly vanished.

Allegations

An emergency motion to suspend his visitation rights had been filed earlier this month by Debra Sikora, Shelly Mook's mother and primary custodian of her granddaughter.

Affidavits from Sikora and a counselor claimed that the child said there was talk with Tyler and Kim Mook, the child's paternal grandmother, about burning down Sikora's home in Pennsylvania, with the result being that the girl would then live with her father.

The child's statements were also corroborated by a Pennsylvania DCS worker, court documents stated. The restraining order was filed against Tyler, Kim and also Jim Mook, the child's grandfather.

Won't step aside

On Tuesday, papers were filed by the Mook family to have Russell recuse himself from the case due to statements he made in regards to Tyler's credibility.

According to motions and affidavits filed Tuesday by attorney Eric Burch, Tyler and Kim Mook said that they were not guilty of the acts complained of in the restraining order.

The Mooks claim that Russell "cannot make an unbiased finding" regarding them due to written and oral opinions the judge has made -- one regarding Tyler's child support and the circumstances surrounding losing his job, and a written opinion in July where Russell stated that Tyler "had little if any credibility ..."

Kim felt that Russell should be removed from the case due to his finding that she was "in total denial about my son, Tyler's, alleged drug trafficking and violence ...," court documents read.

No trace

Shelly Mook was last seen on the afternoon of Feb. 28, 2011, at Tyler's home outside Shelbyville as she dropped off their daughter. Her burned car was found that night near Murfreesboro.

A $20,000 reward remains in effect for information in the case. Call the Bedford County Sheriff's Department, (931) 684-3232, or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, (800) TBI-FIND.