Man charged with reckless homocide following aunt’s death said he was trying to protect his brother

By Shawntaye Hopkins


A Lexington man charged with reckless homicide following his aunt’s death last week says he was trying to protect his brother and never meant to hurt someone he loved like a mom.

Patrick Ryan Combs, 21, was granted a pass to leave the Fayette County jail on Friday to attend the funeral of his 52-year-old aunt, Jennie Lou Beckum.

Combs, who appeared in Fayette District Court Friday afternoon with his mother, Dorothy Lamb, pleaded not guilty to the reckless homicide charge.

“She’s more than just my aunt; she was my best friend,” Combs said after his arraignment. “She’s just like my mom.”

A police report says Combs was arguing with two people in front of his home on Withers Avenue in north Lexington on June 1 when he picked up a board to throw at them after they’d gotten into a truck. But Combs hit Beckum in the head as he was drawing back the board, according to the report.

Lexington police Sgt. Paul Williams said the incident was reported about 3:45 a.m. June 1 as a personal injury/sick case following a fight in the front yard.

Beckum died on June 7 at University of Kentucky Hospital from injuries sustained during the incident. No one was available Friday at the Fayette County Coroner’s Office to comment on the cause of death.

After his court appearance, Combs said he and his 22-year-old brother were walking home from a friend’s garage on Devonia Avenue, where they were playing pool and drinking alcohol. He said two men followed him to his house on Withers and falsely accused his brother of stealing a hat.

Combs said he picked up the board because he was being threatened by the two men. Beckum was standing behind him.

Combs said he thinks Beckum fell and hit her head on the concrete, which might have been the cause of death. Lamb said Beckum doesn’t have any marks on her face from the board.

“I just don’t think it’s fair that Patrick is charged,” Lamb said.

She said the family is struggling to cope with the loss of her sister and the charges against her son. Lamb said her son was closer to Beckum than Beckum’s own children.

Beckum is survived by her husband, Tom, four children and nine grandchildren.

Another relative, Arnold Scarborough, said Combs would never hurt anyone, especially family.

Combs said he’s innocent.

“I’d kill myself before I’d kill her,” he said.

Combs, who said he does not have an attorney, will appear in court again June 17th.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at (859) 231-1386 or 1-800-950-6397 Ext. 1386.

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