Tuesday, May 24, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-25-'11
- Some eastern Kentucky security guards have won more than $118,000 in back wages after Pikeville-based Appalachian Security Inc. had classified some guards as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act provisions. But, the U.S. Department of Labor found they were paid hourly and didn't meet exemption requirements from federal overtime pay. The agency found that 44 employees were mistakenly classified. The company agreed to pay the back wages and committed to properly classifying future employees.
- A jury recommended a sentence of 14 and a half years for Donna Wheeler after convicting her of manslaughter in the shooting death of her former boyfriend, James T. Sparks, which occurred last April at her home on Barber Branch in Johnson County.
- Lonnie Callahan turned himself in and his son, Lonnie Ray Callahan, was arrested early Tuesday morning after both were indicted earlier this month in the October 2010 murder of Norman Adams in Leslie County. Police say the Callahan's, along with three other men, beat Adams to death then sent his body on a four-wheeler down a hill to make it look like he died in an ATV accident. Troopers arrested Millard Miniard, 48, and Harold Pennington, 46, earlier this month. They are all charged with murder, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.
- Kentucky State Police announced Tuesday that Joe Ward, a trooper who died in the line of duty 38 years ago is the recepient of the Governor’s Medal of Valor, the highest honor that an officer can receive for heroism. While investigating an incident on the Pennyrile Parkway in Christian County in 1973, Ward pushed someone out of the path of an oncoming vehicle and was struck and killed. State Police also announced other annual awards, such as Trooper of the Year for Thomas J. Williams. Williams is being recognized for giving out 2,026 citations and for his work as leader of his post’s highway drug interdiction team. Bryan W. Whittaker was named Detective of the Year for, among other investigations, locating several embezzlement and robbery suspects who had fled to other states.
- A Fayette County jury deliberated 10 hours before convicting 31 year old Adrian Lamont Benton of complicity to commit second-degree manslaughter in the death of University of Kentucky student John Graves Mattingly III. Mattingly III was shot in the head after robbers invaded his home on Wilson Street on May 25, 2006. Benton and 29 year old Raymond Larry Wright were charged with murder after Mattingly's death and were to be tried together. Prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty for both, but Wright admitted he shot Mattingly and pleaded guilty to murder and two counts of complicity to commit robbery as the jury was being selected earlier this month. Prosecutors have recommended a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 25 years for Wright. The surprise guilty plea from Wright meant the death penalty no longer was a sentencing option for Benton. Benton's family asked the jury to have mercy on him.
- Tuesday, Fayette Circuit Court Judge James Ishmael denied a motion to move the trial of Glenn Doneghy, the man accused of murder in the death of Lexington police officer Bryan Durman. Doneghy, 34, is accused of deliberately striking Durman with his vehicle as Durman was investigating a noise complaint on North Limestone on April 29, 2010. Durman, 27, was pronounced dead at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital a short time later. Defense attorneys Kate Dunn, Gayle Slaughter and Sally Wasielewski wanted the trial, which is set to start June 13th in Lexington, moved to Jefferson County. They maintain Doneghy can't get a fair trial in Fayette or surrounding counties because of extensive pre-trial publicity in the case. Judge James Ishmael said the court's first duty is to see whether it can seat a fair jury in Fayette County.
- Hardin County Coroner William Lee is trying to confirm that the decomposed body of a man found in a home is the resident who lived there. Lee says all signs point to the man who died in November of a heart attack being 53 year old Stephen Moore, but identifying him through dental records hasn't worked and Moore had disassociated himself with family and neighbors. Lee says officials are "99 percent sure of who it is, circumstantially, but we want to be 100 percent sure scientifically."
- Council members in Lynch, in Harlan County, appointed 49 year old Taylor Hall as the city's new mayor Tuesday to replace Darlene Monhollenan who resigned, citing stress as the city struggled to recover from thefts that left it in the red. Monhollen had been city clerk before being appointed mayor last September. Former Mayor Ronnie Hampton had hired Monhollen to replace Kellie Maggard, a city clerk accused of stealing about $137,000 from the town. Maggard was convicted of theft and sentenced to 10 years in prison last May. Hall, a former police officer who was on the council, will serve until someone is elected in November. Hall said he plans to run for the full term.
- Campbell Circuit Judge Fred Stine has granted DNA testing to 59 year old William Virgil, an Ohio man who claims the results will exonerate him in the killing of a Veterans Affairs Medical Center nurse 23 years ago. Virgil is serving 70 years in prison after being convicted of killing 54 year old Retha Welch in 1987. Virgil's attorney, Linda A. Smith, the director of the Kentucky Innocence Project, said the ruling is the "first step" in proving Virgil's innocence. Stine issued the order Friday after evidence thought lost in the case turned up in the county's 127-year-old courthouse. Commonwealth's Attorney Michelle Snodgrass, who opposes any testing, says she hasn't decided how she will proceed, but she has until May 31st to object to Stine's order. Snodgrass maintains that, in absence of any new evidence, only people sentenced to death have a right to DNA testing after their conviction. Stine wrote in his ruling that "One of the fundamental responsibilities of any tribunal is to insure its judgment is accurate and reflects the true facts of the case." Items found for testing include a rape kit, Virgil's bloody shoes, and hairs found on Welch's housecoat and bathroom rug.
- The Republican campaign of David Williams and Richie Farmer for governor and lieutenant governor has a new manager with ties to the Tea Party movement. The GOP campaign has hired Luke B. Marchant, who was political director for U.S. Senator Marc Rubio’s campaign last year in Florida and now is a special assistant to Rubio, to replace Scott Jennings. Jennings, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, will remain in the campaign as general consultant and senior policy adviser. Former state Adjutant General Donald Storm will continue as campaign chairman.
- The master commissioner sale of The Crowne Plaza Lexington, The Campbell House that had been scheduled for Monday, was postponed until June 27th. The hotel is in default on its $21 million mortgage held by JPMorgan Chase of Atlanta. James Frazier III, master commissioner for Fayette Circuit Court, said the sale was postponed because several documents had not been completed, including a property inspection and a hotel audit. Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine awarded a judgment against the owners, Thoroughbred Campbell House LLC, on April 28th and ordered the property sold. The scheduled master commissioner sale of the home of John T. Kemper III, the Republican nominee for state auditor, was also canceled. Kemper and his wife, Susan, bought their home at Raven Ridge Estate in 2002 and were in default on their $1.4 million mortgage to Citimortgage.
- Charles Massarone, of Lexington, a graduate of the criminal justice training program at Eastern Kentucky University who has been on the state Parole Board since 2008, has been nominated to serve as a commissioner of the U.S. Parole Commission. Massarone is also a member of the Kentucky Corrections Commission, the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council and the Fraternal Order of Police. U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, who announced Massarone's nomination by the president, said Massarone's 29 years in law enforcement make him "an excellent fit" for the post.
- Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Robert King spoke at a symposium Tuesday in Washington where panelists talked about key education reform strategies shared by top-performing nations. Members of Congress, senior administration officials and others were in the audience. King is the former chancellor of the State University of New York and president and CEO of Arizona Community Foundation and has served on the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars and the Education Committee of UNESCO.
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