Tuesday, March 22, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...3-23-'11
- KSP Post 13 in Hazard is investigating an armed robbery that occurred Monday, March 21st, at the Mayking Dollar General Store. Police say a male subject, wearing dark clothing and a ski mask, entered the store and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspect, described as approximately 6 ft. in height and weighing about 180 lbs., was seen driving away in a dark colored two door passenger car.
- A committee looking for the next University of Kentucky president began interviewing candidates behind closed doors Tuesday. Including Tuesday, the search committee is meeting for three days at the Cincinnati Airport Marriott, a hotel near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport at Hebron. UK board of trustees Chairman Britt Brockman says several candidates will be interviewed. The search for a successor to Lee T. Todd Jr. is reaching a crucial phase. Todd announced in September he'll step down when his contract expires in June. UK trustees hope to consider presidential finalists in April and extend an offer in May. The search is expected to remain closed to scrutiny until trustees agree on a preferred candidate, who would meet with the public before signing a contract. Brockman said the committee told the candidates UK's level of commitment to becoming a top 20 research university is "not a choice — it's a mandate."
- The Kentucky State Police Electronic Crime Branch has arrested Jace Short, 18, of Grethel, Ky. as the result of an ongoing undercover Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) investigation. Short had been seen sharing images of child sexual exploitation and a search warrant was executed at his residence with the assistance of KSP Post 9 in Pikeville. He was charged with Possession of Matter Portraying the Sexual Performance of a Minor and Distribution of Matter Portraying the Sexual Performance of a Minor. Short was lodged in the Floyd Co. Detention Center. The investigation is continuing.
- Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Bob Leeper says he wants to move quickly on a compromise that would shore up the state's Medicaid budget, but he doesn't know how long it may take to finish work on the proposal approved by the House on Monday. His committee is scheduled to meet at 10:00 A.M. EDT Wednesday to discuss the proposal. The House wants to transfer funding from next year's appropriation to balance this year's Medicaid budget, then balance next year's budget by privatizing additional Medicaid services, with cuts that would kick in only if the privatization doesn't work. The Senate has been pressing for across-the-board cuts to all agencies.
- Lisa Gilliam, the wife of former Laurel County attorney Larry Gilliam, who was found shot in his London office in January, has been arrested and charged with his murder. Gilliam turned herself in to police around 11:00 A.M. Tuesday morning after an arrest warrant was issued for the murder of her husband. According to police, Gilliam and his wife Lisa, were the only two present when the shooting occurred. The facts surrounding the shooting were presented to the Laurel County Grand Jury on March 14th, and an indictment was returned four days later. Gilliam was taken to Saint Joseph-London Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Gilliam has bonded out of jail. Her bond had been set at $100,000.
- Tuesday, former Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge once again appeared in court accused of taking money from drug dealers, pocketing money from his office and falsifying records. Hodge was indicted in state court on charges of stealing $350,000 from his office, and has pleaded not guilty. An affidavit from an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives alleges a drug dealer paid Hodge $1,000 to $1,500 a month to avoid investigation by the sheriff's office. The affidavit says Hodge routinely cashed checks from his department's drug and alcohol fund before weekends, holidays, out-of-town trips and his wife's birthday. An employee questioned by federal agents says Hodge used the drug fund to pay informants and make drug buys. But Hodge's chief deputy, Timmy Shelley, told agents he never participated in a drug buy using informants since joining the force in 2003. Another worker told federal agents the department's financial records were often short and "she would have to falsify paperwork in order to balance" the accounts. Hodge will be back in court in May.
- The Judicial Conduct Commission has filed misconduct charges against a Harlan County circuit judge, alleging a variety of misdeeds that could force him from office if proven. The judicial panel said Judge Russell Alred had tried to discredit Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop by ordering a grand jury investigation into alleged drug trafficking in his office. The panel also charged Alred had required criminal defendants last year to donate $500,000 to the Harlan County Fiscal Court to pay for a water park.
- Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson III rejected arguments from Karen Cunagin Sypher, saying there's no new evidence that would warrant granting her second request for a new trial. Sypher was convicted in August of extortion, lying to the FBI and retaliation against a witness. Prosecutors said she sought millions in cash, cars and a house from Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino to stay quiet about a one-night stand at a Louisville restaurant in 2003. On February 18th, Sypher was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison. She has remained free since then. Sypher is appealing the conviction.
- Tuesday, Governor Steve Beshear signed into law 9 bills that will help and honor Kentucky veterans, from helping with deployment costs to providing a preference for veterans in state hiring. Beshear was joined by legislators and Kentucky veterans as he signed the bills into law during a bill signing ceremony at the Frankfort VFW Post 4075.
- Dale Baich, an Arizona public defender, is joining attorneys from Georgia and Kentucky in calling on the Justice Department to investigate how the states acquired sodium thiopental, a key lethal injection drug that is in short supply in the U.S. Baich called for the probe because Arizona bought supplies of sodium thiopental from Dream Pharma, a British company that some defense attorneys have described as a fly-by-night operation. Public defender David Barron, attorney for Kentucky death row inmate Ralph Baze, asked for an investigation on how the state got its supply. Barron wrote, "It is likely that illegally imported or possessed thiopental will be used in the execution of Mr. Baze and multiple other individuals on Kentucky's death row."
- A second suspect in the killing of a man and the burning of his body has accepted a plea deal in Covington. Patrick Cooke of Covington pleaded guilty Monday to facilitation to murder, first-degree robbery and tampering with physical evidence. The 26-year-old Cooke also agreed to testify against others in the beating and strangulation killing of Shawn Davis in January 2009. The commonwealth is recommending Cooke be sentenced to 25 years in prison. He would be eligible for parole after serving half of the term. Mary Ann Hartbarger pleaded guilty in January to a reduced charge and Samantha Mayes is discussing a plea deal. The commonwealth wants the death penalty for Marion Lawson Parker III, whose murder trial is scheduled for August 9th.
- Parents of children with disabilities will have an opportunity to express concerns regarding their children's education at a public hearing hosted by the State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children. The public hearing will be held at 6:30 P.M. EDT Thursday at Natural Bridge State Resort Park in Slade, Ky. Education leaders, professionals and interested citizens also are invited to advise the Kentucky Department of Education's Division of Learning Services on issues regarding the education of youth with disabilities.
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