Friday, April 22, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky..4-23-'11
- The University of Kentucky plans to install a new $6.25 million sound system and video scoreboards in Commonwealth Stadium before the first home football game in September. The proposal has raised questions among some faculty at the cash-strapped university, which hasn’t given raises to most employees for three years. UK’s athletics association said it would fund $3.1 million of the upgrade with an internal loan and $3.15 million from private money. It would reimburse the loan over a period of no more than five years, if the upgrade is approved by the board of trustees and other committees. UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the school found money for the loan in its working capital, dollars used for daily operations.
- Ross Brandon Sluss was sentenced to life in prison Thursday after a jury convicted him last month of driving under the influence and causing a crash in Martin County that killed ten year old Destiny Brewer. Last month, a jury convicted Sluss of murder, DUI, and four other charges. Prosecutors presented evidence that Sluss, who crossed the center line on Ky. 40 on June 25th, had smoked marijuana and taken Hydrocodone and other prescription drugs. Commonwealth's Attorney Anna Melvin said there was also evidence that Sluss did not apply his brakes before his car hit Blanche Robinson's head-on.
- Winchester Police say 38 year old Randall Hagan, a Perry County man involved in a chase and shooting on April 1st, ran from officers because he was having a tough time emotionally. Following a chase, Hagan refused to show his hands and appeared to be reaching for something when a detective fired, hitting Hagan in the shoulder. Police say Hagan told them he was on his way back from visiting his sick mother in Ohio, and the prognosis wasn't good. Hagan told officers he was just focused on getting home to Perry County.
- A jury recommended a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday afternoon after convicting Robin Mapel Thursday afternoon in the death of his ex-girlfriend, Melissa Patrick. Mapel was accused of kidnapping Patrick and fatally shooting her in November 2008 after he had escaped custody from the Montgomery County Jail, where he was being held on charges he kidnapped the couple's two-year-old son, Wyatt. The murder happened in Morgan County, but the trial, which began on April 14th, was moved to Carter County. The Morgan County Commonwealth's Attorney said at the request of Patrick's family he did not seek the death penalty against Mapel. The family says "that's too easy of a punishment" for Mapel. Formal sentencing for Mapel is set for June 6th.
- A judge in Louisville has found a Somali immigrant guilty of killing his four children, ages 2 through 8, as well as raping and trying to kill his wife. Biyad was accused of slitting their throats in 2006 following an argument with his wife. It took about 20 minutes for Jefferson Circuit Judge James Shake on Friday to rule that Said (sy-EED') Biyad was guilty on all counts. He had taken the stand in his own defense Friday, the final day of the trial, and claimed he did not kill his children. His defense team argued an insanity defense, but Shake ruled he was sane. Sentencing is scheduled for June 9th. Biyad could receive life in prison without parole.
- Attorney General Jack Conway has joined 17 other state attorneys general in calling on Pabst Brewing Co. to stop marketing "Blast by Colt 45" toward youth. Pabst introduced the fruit flavored malt beverage with an alcohol concentration of 12 percent earlier this month in 23.5 ounce cans. Conway said each can contains the equivalent to nearly five servings of alcohol. Conway says he believes Blast poses "a serious health and safety risk" for youth at a time when the country is fighting to prevent binge drinking. The attorneys general have sent a letter to the company asking the alcohol content be lowered.
- The Council on Postsecondary Education, the panel charged with approving tuition increases for Kentucky's public colleges meets next Wednesday and Thursday in Elizabethtown. On the agenda is whether to give the thumbs up to as much as 6 percent tuition increases for undergraduates. Officials at the universities of Louisville and Kentucky have said they want to raise their in-state undergraduate tuition by 6 percent. Eastern Kentucky University is considering a 5 percent increase. The council's staff has recommended that community colleges be allowed to raise tuition by 4 percent. Also on the agenda is a proposal that would effectively allow the University of Louisville to charge students $98 per semester to help pay for the construction of a new student recreation center.
- Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael has refused to allow public defender Eden Davis Stephens to withdraw from the murder trial of Timothy Meskimen. Meskimen, 39, was arrested after Edgar Hurst, 50, was found beaten to death and hidden under some brush along North Broadway in Lexington last year. Meskimen appeared in court for a status hearing Friday. Stephens, who is resigning to become a stay-at-home mom to her newborn child, has been out of the office on maternity leave since December. Ishmael expressed some concern with releasing the lead attorney on the case so close to the trial date scheduled to begin May 17, especially after Meskimen told his attorneys he did not wish to have the trial postponed. Meskimen is scheduled for another status hearing May 6th after DNA evidence is expected to be returned in the case. If convicted of murder, Meskimen faces 20 years to life in prison.
- Leo Marcum, a Republican state representative from Inez from 1978 to 1979 and Commonwealth’s Attorney in the 24th Judicial District, which covers Lawrence, Johnson and Martin counties from 1987 to 2002, was suspended from practicing law for three years by the state Supreme Court, which acted Thursday on a recommendation from the Kentucky Bar Association. Marcum, who is also facing charges of not paying state and federal income taxes, was suspended for mixing client money and his own money in an escrow account and not answering truthfully when asked by the KBA about the money. Financial records of Marcum’s escrow account show he was using the account to pay for his personal expenses as well as expenses relating to his clients’ cases. Lawyers are not allowed to mix client money with office or personal funds. Marcum pleaded not guilty in April to six felony counts of not paying state income taxes from 2004 to 2009. He also faces charges in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky for not paying $1.3 million in back federal taxes. That case is still pending.
- The state Supreme Court has declined to hear a case that would decide whether the state can regulate betting on videos of previously run horse races, including the game Instant Racing. The state Supreme Court denied a motion to transfer the case from the state Court of Appeals to the state Supreme Court, meaning the appeal of a lower court ruling on Instant Racing will go to the state Court of Appeals. In December, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled the state can regulate Instant Racing. The Family Foundation, which had filed suit challenging the state's ability to regulate Instant Racing, has asked the Court of Appeals to hear the appeal. But the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, the racetracks and the Kentucky Department of Revenue filed a motion to have the state's highest court hear the case. The Family Foundation, a Lexington nonprofit, is opposed to the expansion of gambling.
- The Keeneland Association announced Friday that it plans to launch an advanced deposit wagering system this fall. The ADW platform, which will be powered by TwinSpires.com, will allow horse players to wager on Keeneland racing in the spring and fall, as well as throughout the year on other tracks. A statewide initiative to gather photos of every Kentuckian whose name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will kick off at a May 9th breakfast at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset. The photos will be used in the Education Center at The Wall, a learning facility being built near the Vietnam Veterans and Lincoln Memorials in Washington, D.C. The Education Center will build on the visitor's experience at The Wall by showing a photo for every name and telling their stories. The Wall That Heals will be in Somerset from May 9th to the 14th. Planned activities include wreath layings, leaving flags at The Wall and reading the names of all those on The Wall from Kentucky.
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