Superior Court Judge Celé Hancock rejected a plea agreement offered to man accused of physically beating two young boys, ages 4 and 6, as punishment, prompting him to ask for, and get, a new judge.
Jaccob Billiter, 34, was indicted on five counts of aggravated assault and two counts of child abuse.
Billiter had been living with his 23-year-old girlfriend in a camper in the 24000 block of N. Highway 89 in Paulden, where deputies were called July 10, 2012.
The six-year-old was found with a "significant injury to his head and dried blood on his face," said spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn. Deputies were told he had been held upside-down while being whipped with a hose as punishment for drinking out of the irrigation system. He had welts on his back from the hose, and the head injury apparently happened as a result of the child being dropped head-first, D'Evelyn said.
The four-year-old "had a visible injury on his forehead resulting from punishment by Billiter," D'Evelyn said. Paramedics took the boys to a hospital for treatment. A Child Protective Services report sent to Hancock in February said, "Both boys continue to present with significant behavioral and mental health issues."
Billiter was to be sentenced Friday, after pleading guilty to two counts of child abuse, each of which carried a maximum sentence of 3.75 years and up to lifetime probation.
But Hancock said last week that that agreement was "too lenient" and rejected it.
His attorney, John Hollis, petitioned Presiding Judge David L. Mackey for a change of judge and Mackey granted it.