UPDATE: Judge rules no conflict of interest for DA to prosecute perjury case against Gatlinburg detective
Judge Tom Greenholtz ruled that DA Pinkston can prosecute the lead investigator in the Ooltewah rape case for the perjury charges filed against him.
UPDATE: Judge Tom Greenholtz has denied a motion to disqualify District Attorney General Neal Pinkston's office from prosecuting Gatlinburg Detective Rodney Burns.
Burns' filed a motion to prevent Pinkston from prosecuting a case of alleged perjury against the detective following his testimony in the 2015 Ooltewah basketball team rape case.
The motion cited a conflict of interest and other related grounds that would have disqualified Pinkston's office from prosecuting the case.
PREVIOUS STORY: The lead investigator in the Ooltewah rape case appeared before a Hamilton County judge Tuesday. He wasn't facing the perjury charges made against him. The attorneys' focus was on who should prosecute Rodney Burns.
The Gatlinburg detective is accused of Aggravated Perjury during his testimony in a February hearing related to the rape case.
Burn's attorney filed a motion to ask that the Hamilton County district attorney be removed from the case because of a conflict of interest.
For more than an hour, Judge Tom Greenholtz listened to arguments from both sides about whether or not District Attorney Neal Pinkston should be removed from the case.
Burns sat surrounded by family while the aggravated perjury case against him was put on hold as attorneys from both sides argued who should prosecute the case.
"It's an attempt to stray from the main issue that we're here for and that's the indictment and to move forward and stick with the prosecution," Pinkston told Greenholtz Tuesday.
The perjury case stems from statements the Gatlinburg Police detective made while under oath about his investigation into the Ooltewah rape case.
Motivation behind a civil suit Burns filed against Pinkston as well as alleged conversations of a deal to drop the suit were called into question by the judge.
"Why wasn't there a claim filed against any of the others who spoke out against your client?" Greenholtz asked.
"Well, they didn't lie about him," Defense Attorney Bryan Delius said, "They didn't claim that he committed a crime. They took issue with the characterization of his testimony but they didn't say he's a liar."
Statements to the media also took center stage, with questions surrounding press released from the district attorney's office about Burns being sent to local and national outlets.
Attorneys representing Burns argue with the pending civil case, it should be a special prosecutor and not Pinkston moving forward in court.
Greenholtz will make his final decision in September.
This now pushes the original perjury case back even further because that case can't move forward until this issue is resolved.
The criminal case in Sevier County against the three juveniles is set to go to trial on August 30th.
Detective Burns is the lead investigator in the case, it's unclear if he will take the stand.
Burns attorneys declined to comment to Channel 3 after the hearing, citing statements to the media are a big factor in the case but did say Burns is innocent.
Channel 3 reached out to the district attorney's office, a spokesperson declined to comment, citing the pending case.
PREVIOUS STORY: Judge Tom Greenholtz says he'll take the case under advisement and will render his decision September 20.
Gatlinburg Detective Rodney Burns appeared in court Tuesday where he faces two counts of aggravated perjury in the Ooltewah rape case.
Burns has also maintained that District Attorney Neal Pinkston has a conflict of interest in the case.
PREVIOUS STORY: Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston filed a counter motion regarding the Ooltewah assault case's key witness.
According to court documents obtained by Channel 3, Pinkston asked the state to deny a claim by Sevier County Detective Rodney Burns' defense team that Pinkston be removed from prosecuting the case on the grounds of conflict of interest.
This stems from an aggravated perjury charge in which Pinkston accused Burns of making false statements under oath in a February hearing for Jesse Nayadley, Andre Montgomery, and Karl Williams.
The district attorney's office asserts there is no basis for Burns' claim and it is his duty to fairly prosecute criminal offenses.