Motion for judge's recusal in Leon Jacob's murder-for-hire case denied

HOUSTON – A motion seeking the recusal of a judge who was overseeing the case against a man arrested in a murder-for-hire plot was denied Friday.

A Montgomery County judge heard arguments Friday morning from both prosecutors and the defense for Leon Jacob, 39, over the motion filed by Jacob’s attorney asking for the recusal of Judge Jim Wallace after comments Wallace made during an earlier bail hearing.

During that hearing, Parnham argued that his client never intended for anyone to get hurt, to which Wallace replied, “So that’s why you hired a hitman?”

Judge Phil Grant ruled that Wallace’s comment was made in the context of the discussion and that bias was not present. He said a new judge is not needed.

Also during Friday's hearing, it was revealed that Jacob's mother, who he had retained as co-counsel, would no longer represent him because she will likely be called as a witness when the case goes to trial.

Valerie McDaniel, a Houston veterinarian, and her live-in boyfriend, Jacob, were charged in March with soliciting capital murder.

McDaniel and Jacob were accused of plotting to kill McDaniel's ex-husband and Jacob's ex-girlfriend. Investigators said Jacob and McDaniel offered $20,000 and two Cartier watches as payment for the hits.

McDaniel's charge was dropped after she committed suicide and left a detailed note.

Jacob is being held in jail without bond.

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