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,