A Kamiah man who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in February in the 2018 death of Sarah Warden, of Clarkston, asked for a new judge Wednesday as he faces sentencing Nov. 9.

Cole Marcell, 26, through his attorney Lawrence Moran, asked 2nd District Judge Jeff Brudie to disqualify himself from the case based on statements Brudie made in October of last year, while sentencing a co-defendant Amanda M.D. Jones to 15-30 years in prison for second-degree murder.

Brudie took the matter under advisement Wednesday.

Marcell faces up to life in prison. Nez Perce County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Coleman said he would press for 40 years to life after Marcell pleaded guilty earlier this year. The plea agreement allows Marcell’s attorneys to argue for a lighter sentence.

“The information and statute under which that plea was entered alleges two alternative versions of the crime; one of those versions alleges felony murder, the other alleges premeditated murder,” Marcell’s motion said. “The defendant entered his guilty plea to the felony murder allegation. Judge Brudie’s statements on the record indicate that he is predisposed to believe the premeditated murder allegation. The intent of the crime will be a key factor in the disposition of this matter and possible outcomes.”

Marcell, along with Gabriel Mattingly and Jones, was implicated in Warden’s murder as part of an effort to steal her $800 Social Security check for drug money. Warden was seen entering a pickup truck in the Clarkston Walmart parking lot in the early morning hours of June 1, 2018. Marcell was driving the vehicle; Mattingly and Jones were passengers, court records said.

Marcell drove the group to a secluded area near Waha, where Warden’s throat was slit, and she was bludgeoned with a hammer while she was held down. Jones beat and stabbed her. Warden’s body was dumped near Winchester and discovered about a month later.

“The state had no position and made no argument, simply leaving the matter to the court to decide,” Coleman said about Marcell’s motion Wednesday.

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