Judge removes himself from Lamar Co. case

Published 6:48 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A child exploitation case against a Marion County man is on hold until a new trial judge is appointed.

Lamar County Circuit Judge Prentiss Harrell has recused himself from hearing the case against Timothy Craft, 42, who is charged with one count of child exploitation and one count of sexual battery.

Harrell said Monday in his written order that he was recusing himself from the case because his “prior involvement with this case” as Lamar County attorney.

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Another judge has not yet been appointed, District Attorney Hal Kittrell said Monday.

Craft was arrested in October following a two-year investigation by the Lamar County and Jones County sheriffs’ departments and is being held at the Lamar County Jail.

Jones County investigators said Craft was accused of taking more than 100 lewd photos of the then 4-year-old girl in August 2004. He also is charged with engaging in sexual acts with the girl, according to affidavits.

Craft’s ex-girlfriend, Lola Hulsey of Hattiesburg, was convicted two years ago of one count of child molestation and sentenced to 12 years in jail.

Prosecutors said Craft was originally charged on one count of child exploitation at the same time as Hulsey in April 2005. However, Craft was never taken to trial at the time “because he furnished evidence against her (Hulsey) we couldn’t get otherwise,” said Assistant District Attorney Dennis Bisnette.

The couple was charged with abusing the same girl, officials said.