Quinn James attorneys want Kent County prosecutors kicked out of his rape, murder cases

Quinn James, right, is accused of raping and killing 16-year-old Grand Rapids-area resident Mujey Dumbaya, right, and then dumping her body in Kalamazoo. (WWMT)

The attorney representing the Kent County man accused of raping and later kidnapping and killing Mujey Dumbuya wants the Kent County Prosecutor's Office off the case - because someone in that office had an "intimate" relationship with the defendant.

Quinn James' defense attorney, Jonathan Schildgen, filed a motion Thursday, May 31, 2018, to "disqualify the Kent County Prosecutor's Office from prosecuting or participating in the prosecution of of Quinn James due to a conflict of interest."

He also wants the Kent County prosecutors disqualified from two other criminal cases pending against James: in both, he is charged with criminal sexual conduct charges involving incidents in 2014 and 2017.

According to the two-page motion, the defense claims a member of the prosecutor's office was in a "dating and/or intimate relationship" with James about the same time in which he's accused of raping Dumbuya.

The motion also alleges that this staff member had contact with Dumbuya "in his/her official capacity as a member of the Kent County Prosecutor's Office."

That alleged relationship with James and subsequent contact with Dumbuya, the defense argues, creates not only the appearance of a failure to observe standards or due honesty but an actual conflict of interest.

For those reasons, the defense attorneys said in the motion, James believes he cannot receive due process and a fair trial if the Kent County Prosecutor's Office is involved.

Schildgen declined to comment on the motion.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said Friday that he's not concerned by the motion.

"I can't comment factually on the case ethically since it's going in front of a judge," Becker said. "We'll deal with it through the court system and respond appropriately through the courts. I can say, based on what I'm aware of, that I'm really not concerned about us being removed from the case."

In response, James’ attorney said the prosecutor’s office “should be concerned,” but that’s the only comment Schildgen provided about the motion.

Court documents from the criminal sexual conduct case allege James raped Dumbuya, who was then 15-years-old, several times and in various locations around Kent County throughout the summer of 2017.

According to the defense’s motion, that’s also when James allegedly dated someone at the prosecutor’s office.

That alleged relationship with James and subsequent contact with Dumbuya, “creates not only the appearance of impropriety but creates an actual conflict in fact,” Schildgen wrote in the motion.

For those reasons, the defense attorney added, James believes he cannot receive due process and a fair trial if the Kent County Prosecutor's Office is involved.

A Kent County judge is expected to review the defense’s motion next week, if granted, the current cases against James will remain in Kent County, but an outside prosecuting attorney would have to be brought in to take over.

There are currently three felony cases pending against James in Kent County now. Those include the third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges brought on by Dumbuya in 2017, the 2018 murder of Dumbuya, and an unrelated criminal sexual assault case first reported in 2014.

Out on bond at the time Dumbuya was kidnapped and killed, James was arrested on the unrelated 2014 allegations the day after Dumbuya was identified as the victim found in Kalamazoo.

Dumbuya reported those allegations to police and James was arrested in November, he was out on bond when Dumbuya went missing on her way to the bus stop near Grand Rapids.

A student at East Kentwood High School, Dumbuya was found dead in a wooded area in Kalamazoo four days later.

James was quickly arrested on unrelated charges that stem from the unrelated rape allegations reported in 2014.

Now 43, James was charged in April with first-degree premeditated murder, felony murder, and conspiracy to commit murder in the kidnapping and killing of Dumbuya.

The 16-year-old was found dead in Kalamazoo in late-January, days after a trial date had been set in her sexual assault case against James.

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