OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma appeals court on Thursday threw out a first-degree murder conviction because of a sexual relationship between the judge and a prosecutor in the case.
In a 3-2 decision, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a new trial for defendant Robert Leon Hashagen III, who was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in 2021. Hashagen’s attorneys later appealed after new evidence emerged of an undisclosed sexual relationship between the trial court judge, Timothy Henderson, and one of the prosecutors in the case.
The majority opinion found that “the undisclosed relationship violated Hashagen’s due process rights.”
Henderson resigned in March 2021 after three female attorneys came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
Henderson was never charged and has described the sexual involvement with two of the women as consensual.
“My rulings were fair and supported by the evidence and facts presented by the attorneys,” Henderson said at an evidentiary hearing in November 2021.
Henderson presided over a number of high-profile criminal trials as a judge, including that of ex-Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, who Henderson sentenced to life in prison in 2016 after he was convicted of raping and sexually victimizing women while on his beat in Oklahoma City.