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Ex-judge wants 'torture' tape suppressed

Jan. 3, 2008 at 9:39 AM

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A newly-resigned U.S. circuit judge in Chattanooga, Tenn., is battling to suppress an audiotape purportedly containing sounds of torture.

At a hearing Wednesday, Sgt. Bill Phillips of the Chattanooga Police Department said former Judge John Hagler is not considered a suspect, but the tape is part of an ongoing investigation into the 1997 shooting death of an Episcopal priest, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

The tape apparently was taken from Hagler's office by an employee he fired because of an unrelated issue. It was turned over to police in 2005, and Sgt. Alan Franks said it created concern.

"We were pretty shocked about the content of the material," he testified. "Because of the content of the tape, it sounded like someone was being tortured."

The Times Free Press is pushing to have the tape made public, and Deputy Police Chief Mark Rawlston said releasing it would not compromise the investigation.

The hearing continued Thursday.

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