Monday, May 23, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-24-'11
- A murder trial started Monday for Donna Wheeler, a Johnson County woman charged with murder in the April 2010 shooting death of her former boyfriend, James T. Sparks. Johnson County Sheriff Deputies testified Wheeler admitted she shot Sparks, several rounds were fired from the gun and there was a smell of alcohol and beer cans at the house. Deputies responded to a 9-1-1 call of shots fired at Wheeler's home on Barber Branch. The first deputy on scene says he found Sparks dead outside the home, next to the front porch. He had been shot in the back. Defense attorneys pointed out that there had several police reports for problems at the house between Wheeler and Sparks. The trial resumes Tuesday.
- Former State Representative J.M. Salyers, who was a veteran and worked in the Perry County School System for many years, died at his home in Bulan Friday at the age of 83. The funeral is Tuesday at noon at Maggard's Mountain View Chapel in Hazard.
- Seventy-nine men and two women have reported to the Kentucky State Police Academy in Frankfort to begin a rigorous, 23-week training program that tests mind, body and spirit. It will be a challenge for each one and some will drop out along the way. Those who complete the course will earn the right to wear the distinctive gray uniform and hat of a Kentucky State Trooper. Physical testing started almost immediately with bench press requirements, sit ups, pushups, a 300 meter run and a one-and-a-half mile run. Historically, 20 percent of the cadets do not complete the program. Among the recruits, 18 have prior law enforcement experience and 13 have military experience. Twenty-seven have bachelor's degrees and 10 have associate degrees. The cadets are tentatively scheduled to graduate on October 30, 2011.
- Democratic Governor Steve Beshear released the first television ad of the general election campaign Monday, less than a week after Republican voters chose state Senate President David Williams to oppose him in November. The ad features Beshear and his wife, Jane, speaking from a park bench in his hometown of Dawson Springs. "We see families struggling in towns just like this all across Kentucky," Jane Beshear said in the 30-second spot. "That's why I'm working to create jobs and to make Frankfort live within its means," the governor added. Senate President David Williams, who has run TV spots for the past three months in a three-way race for the GOP nomination, will have to replenish his bank account before he can begin running TV spots again. All of the spots Williams ran during the primary campaign were similar to Beshear's first ad, identifying him as a candidate who cares deeply for Kentucky. Both are from small Kentucky towns, and both went on to become lawyers and leading political figures in the state. In the ad, Beshear touts his small-town upbringing and reminds voters his father and grandfather were preachers, a theme he used throughout the 2007 campaign. The ad shows townsfolk walking in the background while Jane Beshear offers a warm endorsement of her husband of more than 40 years. "Steve tries to bring people together," she said. The governor then said, "But I'll take on anyone to do what's best for Kentucky."
- Attorney Jack Conway has named Patrick Hughes, a former attorney in the Department of Financial Institutions, to become chief deputy attorney general on June 1st. Hughes will leave a private practice where his primary areas of concentration include banking, real estate and corporate law to take the position. Hughes, who has a law degree from the University of Kentucky, served as a senior staff member in the Finance and Administration Cabinet from 1995 to 1997.
- Waiting for her arraignment at Louisville Metro Corrections Monday morning, 28 year old Mollie Shouse said little as she stood before Jefferson District Judge Angela McCormick Bisig on charges of murder, possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana. Her 2 year old son, Kenton Brown, died Saturday after being left in a car for several hours. A not guilty plea was entered for Shouse, and Bisig set a bond of $250,000. Another hearing is scheduled for June 2nd. The temperature reached 85 degrees by midafternoon Saturday in the Louisville area. The preliminary cause of Kenton's death is consistent with environmental hyperthermia. Hyperthermia, often referred to as “heat stroke,” occurs when a body's temperature is overloaded by heat. Children are at increased risk for hyperthermia because their small bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult's.
- State offices will be closed on Friday, May 27th, as part of the state’s budget balancing plan to furlough state government workers a total of six days in Fiscal Year 2011, as authorized by the 2010-12 biennial budget passed by the General Assembly. The furloughs are estimated to save taxpayers approximately $24 million, as well as prevent laying off more than 400 state employees. The savings generated help close a $131 million gap in the state budget in the fiscal year that ends June 30th. State offices will also be closed on Monday, May 30th, in observance of Memorial Day.
- Kentucky officials launched a campaign Monday to help keep children from being killed or injured from being left in a hot vehicle. Safe Kids USA says last year was the worst on record in terms of children dying in the U.S. after being left unattended in vehicles. A total of 49 children between the ages of 2 months and 6 years died from vehicular hyperthermia in 2010. The organization recommends leaving a purse or briefcase in the back seat of the vehicle or setting a cell phone alarm as a reminder when a child is in the car and says to leave car doors locked when you're not around so kids won't climb inside to play.
- State records show the number of juveniles being incarcerated in Kentucky has decreased for three consecutive years. Statistics from the state Department of Juvenile Justice and Kentucky Youth Advocates show a total of 7,100 juveniles were incarcerated in 2010, down from 8,883 incarcerations in 2009, 9,834 in 2008 and 11,299 in 2007. The number of status offenders being put in detention also has declined. Status offenses are those that adults could not be charged with, such as truancy or being unruly. There were 1,541 bookings last year, compared with 1,765 in 2009, 2,020 bookings in 2008 and 2,340 bookings in 2007.
- Bendrea Wilson, 33, the former office manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass pleaded guilty Monday to bank fraud for cashing $435,837 in checks on the organization's account. Wilson admitted she issued 142 fraudulent checks to other people from 2008 through October 2009, and she would keep much of the cash, once in a while paying smaller amounts to those who cashed the checks at Central Bank. According to the plea agreement, Wilson would telephone the Big Brothers' bookkeeper at Stivers and Co., an accounting firm hired by the agency, and authorize checks payable to third parties. Wilson would pick up the checks from Stivers and forge the signatures of Big Brothers board members who could sign checks. Wilson would give the checks to the third parties, who would cash them. Some of the third parties did legitimate work for Big Brothers Big Sisters, but the work didn't warrant the amounts noted on the checks. Wilson faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $1 million and up to five years of supervised release when sentenced August 25th. However, the plea agreement indicates the fact that restitution is due to Big Brothers may be taken into account, along with "the defendant's acceptance of responsibility," among other factors.
- Preliminary statistics indicate that eight people died in eight separate crashes on Kentucky roadways from Monday, May 16th, through Sunday, May 22, 2011. Five of the fatalities involved motor vehicles and three of the victims were not wearing seat belts. Through May 22nd, preliminary statistics indicate that 228 people have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2011. This is sixteen less fatalities than reported for the same time period in 2010. There have been 186 motor vehicle fatalities and 111 of those victims were not wearing seat belts. A total of thirty-three fatalities have resulted from crashes involving the suspected use of alcohol.
Links to this post: