Photo by Hubble Ray Smith.
KINGMAN – Mohave County Superior Court Judge Billy Sipe recused himself Thursday from presiding over the case of William Glen Sanders, who is accused of helping co-defendant Alfredo Blanco bury the body of murdered real estate agent Sid Cranston.
Sanders, 54, was in court for an arraignment hearing after being indicted by a grand jury for concealing a dead body and tampering with physical evidence, both felony crimes.
He was interviewed several times during the 19-month investigation into the disappearance of Cranston. After reportedly failing a lie-detector test, Sanders led police to the body that was buried on a ranch east of Kingman.
The body was discovered Jan. 7, and Cranston’s death has been ruled a homicide by gunshot.
Sipe was also assigned the first-degree murder case against Blanco, and asked both the prosecuting and defense attorneys if they wanted him to recuse himself at Blanco’s Jan. 26 arraignment, where the defendant pleaded not guilty.
The judge disclosed that he had represented Blanco on misdemeanor charges during his private practice as an attorney, adding that he didn’t remember much about the case.
There were no objections, but Sipe issued an order anyway recusing himself from the Blanco case “to avoid the appearance of any impropriety,” he said Thursday. He’s recusing himself from the Sanders case because it’s tied to Blanco.
“I would tend to agree,” prosecuting attorney Mark Barlow said. “We should keep both cases together until someone decides they’re separate.”
Sipe would not have been able to rule on Blanco’s case should the state seek the death penalty, as he’s an appointed judge, not elected.
The case is being transferred to another judge, either Steven Conn or Lee Jantzen, and will be rescheduled for arraignment.
Asked if he had anything to say to the court, Sanders responded, “I just need to get an attorney.”
Sipe told Sanders he’d be asked if he can afford an attorney at the next hearing, and if he cannot, one will be appointed to represent him.