Superior Court Judge C. Philip Ginn said Tuesday he could not preside over the hearing of Damon Mallatere, a former client and friend.

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BOONE, N.C. -- A North Carolina judge has removed himself from the trial of a Boone motel operator accused in the deaths of three people who stayed in a room where carbon monoxide seeped into the room.

Superior Court Judge C. Philip Ginn said Tuesday he could not preside over the hearing of Damon Mallatere, a former client and friend. Mallatere is charged with three counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of Daryl and Shirley Jenkins and 11-year-old Jeffrey Williams. The couple died in April, the boy died in June. After the boy's death, authorities discovered deadly levels of carbon monoxide seeping from the swimming pool water heater on the floor below the room.

Mallatere's lawyers said the deaths were an accident and not the result of criminal conduct.

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