New judge needed in case of punched lawmaker

LOUISVILLE — A southern Kentucky sheriff said a special judge will be appointed to decide whether two teenagers will be tried as adults on charges they hit teacher and state Rep. Dewayne Bunch during a fight at a high school.

Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell said Whitley District Judge Cathy E. Prewitt recused herself from the case at the request of attorneys for the teens. Harrell says it will be about six weeks before a new judge takes the case and can decide how the teens, ages 15 and 16 at the time, will be tried.

Bunch, a first-term Republican, is continuing his recovery at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta from a brain injury caused by the punch and fall at Whitley County High School in Williamsburg on April 12.

Larry Bowie, a spokesman for the Shepherd Center, said Thursday that he had no update on Bunch's condition. Prewitt could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Bunch, 49, was critically injured while rushing to stop the fight between two students as breakfast was being served at the school, where he has taught math and science for 17 years.

Harrell said Bunch has been "doing better" in recent weeks but his long-term prospects remain unknown.

"To what percentage he will be back, I don't know," Harrell said. "He's come a long way from being given a 5 percent chance to live."

The two boys were charged with one count of first-degree assault and two counts of third-degree assault. They are being held at a juvenile detention center in Eastern Kentucky.

Bunch was elected last fall, beating longtime legislator Charles Siler to represent Whitley County and part of Laurel County.