Archive for the ‘Courts’ category

Jury to hear hazing case

August 26, 2008

By Ashlee Clark

RICHMOND — When Brent Whiteside visited three members of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, he knew they would beat him with canes, paddles, open hands and fists. But Whiteside said he was more scared of what would happen if he didn’t go.

“I showed up,” the Eastern Kentucky University student said. “I wasn’t given much of a choice. I did not know what was going to happen if I didn’t show up.”

Whiteside testified during a hearing Tuesday in Madison County District Court that EKU students Thomas Barnes, 21, and Gabriel M. McLaren, 22, and alumnus Alonzo C. McGill, 32, beat him almost daily from Jan. 29 through March 6 while he sought membership into EKU’s chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi.

Whiteside said the three men assaulted him at their Richmond homes. But from Feb. 14 through Feb. 22, Whiteside said he was beaten more than once by another fraternity member in Lexington.

Barnes, McLaren and McGill have been charged with fourth-degree assault in the case. The three men have pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Madison District Judge Earl-Ray Neal ruled that there was enough probable cause in the case to send it to a jury on Oct. 24.

During Whiteside’s nearly hour-long testimony, defense attorneys for Barnes, McLaren and McGill repeatedly questioned Whiteside’s willingness to repeatedly subject himself to the abuse that he described.

“I think that it’s unbelievable that somebody would constantly show up for a two-month period if they were going to be assaulted, especially to the extent that Mr. Whiteside claims,” said Jim Baechtold, the attorney who represents McLaren.

Whiteside testified that fraternity members never forced him to submit to the beatings or threatened retaliation. But “as far as everything that happened each night, that was threat enough,” he said.

Hazing experts say pledges are less inclined to quit the hazing process to avoid the stigma.

Two women pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha at a university in California drowned during a hazing ritual in 2002. A student pledging Kappa Alpha Psi at Florida A&M University was beaten with canes in 2006, and two fraternity brothers were sent to jail.

Tuesday’s testimony was the first time Whiteside has spoken publicly about the case.

Whiteside said he was beaten on the back, buttocks and chest by the three defendants, which caused severe bruising. At one point, Barnes hit Whiteside so hard with a cane that it snapped across his back, Whiteside said.

In March, Whiteside said he noticed blood in his urine. He was also light-headed and couldn’t hold down food. Whiteside threw up twice on March 6 while on the way to Lexington, where he says he was later beaten by fraternity members.

He said he went to a family doctor March 7, and was hospitalized March 8 for kidney failure. He spent several days at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington.

Whiteside said he hasn’t fully recovered from his injuries.

In response to the hazing investigation, the fraternity’s chapters have been suspended at both EKU and the University of Kentucky.

Six members of UK’s chapter have also been implicated by an officer of Kappa Alpha Psi for their alleged involvement in the hazing case.

Whiteside testified that there were multiple members who attended the nightly beatings, but he could not identify anyone other than Barnes, McLaren and McGill.

A status conference in the case will take place Oct. 2 in Madison County District Court.

Prison officer gets 6-month sentence for sex abuse

August 26, 2008

A former corrections officer at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington was sentenced Tuesday by a federal judge to six months in prison and ordered to perform 180 hours of community service for sexually abusing an inmate under his ward.

Hector Antonio Abelar, 28, of Nicholasville, pleaded guilty in May to charges that he repeatedly had sex with a ward from January to May 2007, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Lexington. Abelar will be required to register as a sex offender.

Abelar will be eligible for parole after serving 85 percent of his sentence.

Sex charge dropped after Hensley apologizes for ‘joke’

August 26, 2008

By Cassondra Kirby-Mullins

HARLAN — A felony sex charge has been dismissed against Otis “Bullman” Hensley Jr., a two-time candidate for governor who was arrested after he offered to trade “a good fattening hog” for two female children in a supermarket.

Otis "Bullman" Hensley Jr.

Otis Hensley Jr.

Although Hensley does have a pet pig, he said he was joking when he made the statement to the aunt of a 13-year-old girl and her 11-year-old sister while shopping at Don’s Supersaver in Harlan County.

“I was trying to be friendly,” he said.

Hensley said the phrase has historically been used in Eastern Kentucky as a way of complimenting someone’s children.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard him say that to people,” Hensley’s wife, Mae, said Monday. “He won’t say it anymore, I can tell you that.”

When he realized the family was offended, Hensley said he repeatedly tried to apologize. He also attempted to explain the misunderstanding to the Harlan County attorney’s office, where the girls’ father went to press charges.

“They wouldn’t listen,” said Hensley, 52, who was arrested Aug. 18 and charged with first-degree attempted unlawful transaction with a minor.

Hensley spent three days at the Harlan County jail before his son paid the $15,000 cash bond to get him out.

In Harlan District Court Monday, prosecutor J.D. Smith, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney, acknowledged that authorities believe Hensley “absolutely meant no harm” by his statement.

“It was a joke to him,” Smith said.

Smith moved to dismiss the charge on the condition that Hensley apologize and agree not to have any contact with the family.

“He may be a good man,” the girls’ father said of Hensley. “I was just protecting my kids. I think everybody would have done the same thing. My kids are my life.”

The father declined to comment to reporters after the hearing. The Herald-Leader typically does not identify victims of alleged sex crimes.

Hensley said he is outraged he spent two nights in jail.

“Anyone can go get a warrant against another person for any reason and have them put in jail,” he said. “That should not be allowed.”

“This has ruined my reputation,” he said. “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

Woman sentenced for placing staple in meatloaf

August 25, 2008

Herald-Leader staff report

A Barbourville food service worker was sentenced to a year of home incarceration Monday for placing a metal staple into a batch of processed meatloaf that was to be distributed to a national restaurant chain, federal prosecutors said.

Joreen Crawford, 27, pleaded guilty in May to tampering with a consumer product in January 2007, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Lexington said. A U.S. district judge in London sentenced her to time served, home incarceration and ordered Crawford to pay $1,200 in restitution.

Crawford told authorities that she was hoping a co-worker would get blamed for the staple and get fired. The maker of the meatloaf, whom prosecutors declined to identify, had to recall recall a 3,570 pound shipment of processed meatloaf.

“Miss Crawford’s reckless actions created a significant risk to the safety of others,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam Dotson said in a released statement. “Fortunately, because of the swift response by the defendant’s employer and the (U.S. Department of Agriculture), the staple was recovered before the meatloaf was ever circulated for consumption to the general public.”

Charges against Otis Hensley dropped

August 25, 2008

By Cassondra Kirby-Mullins

HARLAN — Felony charges have been dismissed against Otis “Bullman” Hensley Jr., a two-time candidate for governor who was arrested a week ago after he offered to trade “a good fattening hog” for two female children in a supermarket.

Otis "Bullman" Hensley Jr.

Otis "Bullman" Hensley Jr.

Hensley said he was only joking when he made the statement to the aunt of a 13-year-old girl and her 11-year-old sister. He said is it was meant as a compliment.

However, the father of the girls, who said he did not know Hensley and was concerned about the statements, contacted the county attorney’s office. Hensley, 52, was arrested about 6 p.m. on Aug. 18 and charged with first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor under the age of 16.

During a hearing Monday, the father of the two children agreed to dismiss the charges on the condition that Hensley apologize for his words.

“I was just protecting my kids,” the father said today in court. “I think everyone would have done the same thing. My kids are my life.”

Mackey pleads guilty to felony

August 25, 2008

By Jillian Ogawa

Mackey entered a guilty plea Monday morning to an amended charge of first-degree possession of a controlled substance.

Mackey entered a guilty plea Monday morning to an amended charge of first-degree possession of a controlled substance.

GEORGETOWN — Former high school basketball star Jonathan “Bud” Mackey entered a guilty plea Monday morning to an amended charge of first-degree possession of a controlled substance.

Mackey, 19, was scheduled to appear in Scott County Circuit Court for a jury trial, but prosecutors offered him the plea deal.

Mackey had been indicted in February on a charge of first-degree trafficking a controlled substance, a Class C felony that carries a penalty of five to 10 years in prison. The amended charge is a Class D felony, punishable by one to five years in prison.

The Commonwealth recommended Mackey to serve six months in jail in addition to his two months jail credit and to probate the remainder of the five-year sentence. He will be sentenced Oct. 6. Mackey served 60 days in jail after violating the terms of his bond in May.

Mackey was the Sweet Sixteen’s most valuable player while on Scott County’s 2007 state championship team and had planned to play basketball at Indiana University.

He was charged last September. Police said he had 1.6 grams of rock cocaine in his shoe when he was arrested at Scott County High School.

According to court documents, the charge was amended for a number of reasons such as the drugs were not actually transferred, Mackey’s lack of criminal history, and it “eliminates the necessity of suppression hearings.”

If the suppression hearing occurred, it would have involved whether statements Mackey made at his arrest and search that was conducted were permissible, said the commonwealth and the defense. After his arrest, Mackey told school administrators he was delivering it to an unidentified person, according to a police report.

During the court hearing, Mackey’s attorney Jerry Wright said he plans to provide documents from family and friends in support of Mackey, but wanted to make sure that it did not “negate or void” the plea agreement.

After the court hearing, Wright said he thinks Mackey obtained his GED.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Gordie Shaw said Mackey’s case — in which a student was arrested on school grounds and, initially, charged with trafficking — was a first for his office, which handles cases for Scott, Woodford and Bourbon counties.

“We’ve had everything else but students … it’s the first, it may not be the last, so what’s our standard going to be when this happens,” Shaw said. “Whatever we use for him, it’s going to be the same standard we use for everyone else.”

Shaw said he had an informal discussion with high school students who said drugs were one of the major challenges they face in terms of peer pressure.

Being a star basketball player, Mackey also propelled the case to the public forum, said Scott County High School Principal Frank Howatt, who had been subpoenaed by the commonwealth for Mackey’s scheduled trial.

Howatt said he was comfortable with the plea agreement.

He said it showed there are consequences to the drug charge, “but still at some point he can pick up his life and move on.”

Howatt said he hoped Mackey’s case sent a clear message to other students that no one will look the other way if they get caught with drugs.

“You are going to pay a pretty stiff penalty,” he said.

Prosecutor will seek death penalty in 6-year-old murder case

August 23, 2008

The Associated Press

STANFORD — A central Kentucky prosecutor has filed notice that he plans to seek the death penalty against one of the three men charged in a six-year-old murder case.

The Advocate-Messenger in Danville reports that 25-year-old Deonte Simmons of Richmond pleaded not guilty Friday in Lincoln County Circuit Court. He’s charged with two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of robbery and one count of burglary.

The charges stem from the deaths of 20-year-old Ryan Shangraw and 19-year-old Harold “Bo” Upton III in February 2002 in Lincoln County and attacks on two girls who were in Shangraw’s trailer when the slayings happened.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddy Montgomery filed notice he plans to seek the death penalty for Simmons.

Also pleading not guilty Friday was Jamarkos Campbell of Richmond, who faces the same charges. Campbell was a juvenile when the slayings occurred and wouldn’t be eligible for capital punishment.

Montgomery says a murder charge against a third suspect, Matthew Tolson of Richmond, will be presented to a grand jury next month.

Information from: The Advocate-Messenger,

Mother of drowned girl sues condo owners

August 22, 2008

By Brandon Ortiz

The mother of a 14-year-old girl who died of a brain injury after she was trapped in a pool has sued the Lexington condominium complex that owns the pool.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Fayette Circuit Court, is against Aintree Condominiums Inc., located at 421 Redding Road. The suit was brought by Lisa Ann Scott, the mother of Kiah Milsom.

Kiah, who had trespassed with friends, was swimming at the bottom of the pool at 4 a.m. July 20 when her arm was sucked into the drain, police said. She was submerged for about 20 minutes.

She was taken to the University of Kentucky Hospital, where she died five days later from a brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen.

The lawsuit alleges that the owners of the condominium complex knew or should have known the drainage pump was dangerous. They also knew or should have known that children might swim in the pool unauthorized, the suit says.

The suit states the drain cover was not properly in place, as required by law.

Lexington lawyer Robert Houlihan Jr., who filed the lawsuit, said Kentucky law requires that pool drainage covers be firmly affixed with screws so they can only be removed with tools. According to public records, not only was the drainage cover missing, it was not capable of being screwed in, he said.

Houlihan said the drainage pumps are capable of creating tremendous pressure.

The complex’s management could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Houlihan said the pool was fenced in, and that the fence was locked. He did not know how the children got into the pool.
Reach Brandon Ortiz at (859) 231-1443 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 1443.

Ex-aide in Isaac’s office pleads guilty to misconduct

August 22, 2008

By Jim Warren

A onetime senior aide to former Lexington Mayor Teresa Isaac pleaded guilty in Fayette Circuit Court Friday to a charge of official misconduct in the first degree.

Becky Estep is scheduled for sentencing before Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Clark on Oct. 13.

Meanwhile, a case is still pending against Debbie Jones, who was an administrative assistant in Isaac’s administration. Jones has another court appearance on Sept. 5.

Jones and Estep were indicted by a Fayette County Grand Jury last March on one count each of theft by unlawful taking over $300, a Class D felony.

According to court documents filed last March, Estep used money belonging to the Lexington Festival Committee to buy clothes, popcorn and lunches worth more than $300. Jones allegedly used money from the same source to pay for a trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., as well as gift cards and lunches totalling more than $300.

The charge to which Estep pleaded guilty, official misconduct in the first degree, is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail or a fine of up to $500 or both.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson’s office is recommending that Estep serve 180 days in jail and make restitution for what she took. The amount of restitution is still being calculated.

Under Kentucky law, public servants are guilty of official misconduct in the first degree if they knowingly commit acts related to their office that constitute an unauthorized exercise of official function ”with intent to obtain or confer a benefit, or to injure another person or deprive another person of a benefit …“
Reach Jim Warren at 1-800-950-6397 Ext. 3255 or 859-231-3255

Bond reduced for two fen-phen attorneys

August 22, 2008

By Brandon Ortiz

COVINGTON — A federal judge has reduced bond for two Lexington-area lawyers accused of pocketing millions of dollars that should have gone to their former clients in a diet-drug settlement.

Bond for William Gallion was set at $2.5 million, and Shirley Cunningham Jr.’s bond was set at $1.25 million.

The two men have been in the Boone County Jail awaiting their second criminal trial.

Gallion and Cunningham filed motions last month asking a federal judge to release them from jail so they can help their attorneys prepare for their second trial. Their first trial ended July 3 with a deadlocked jury.

Gallion argued in his earlier motion that he has little money for bond or to flee because his assets have been garnisheed by a civil lawsuit over his handling of a $200 million fen-phen class action lawsuit settlement.

Gallion and Cunningham also argued that they should be released from jail because the first jury couldn’t decide whether the two were guilty of conspiring to commit wire fraud. The jury foreman later said the vote was 10 to 2 to acquit the two men.

They are accused of taking millions of dollars that should have gone to 440 former clients in a 2001 fen-phen settlement in Boone Circuit Court. A third defendant, Lexington-area attorney Melbourne Mills Jr., was found not guilty by the same jury.

The two attorneys have been held at the Boone County Jail since August 2007.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman’s decision to jail the two men and to set bond for Gallion at $52 million and for Cunningham at $45 million. Bertelsman declined the two men’s request to be released after was declared. But Bertelsman later stepped down from the case, and U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves was assigned to it.

In their motion, federal prosecutors point out that Bertelsman, who oversaw the six-week trial, said there was even more evidence and concern that the two men would flee.

On Friday, Reeves laid out several restrictions on travel. Gallion and Cunningham have to be subject to home detention, they’ll be subject to GPS monitoring and they will have to keep logs of visitors and telephone calls. Also, their computer usage will be monitored. Reeves said the men can give out gifts only up to $1,000 to make sure they’re not liquidating or hiding assets. The judge also said he might appoint someone to monitor their business assets.

Reeves said if they violate any condition of the bond it will be forfeited.

Attorneys for both men said they did not know whether their clients would be able to post bond.


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