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May 21, 2018

MARTIN COUNTY REPORT:

INEZ MAN PLEADS 'NOT GUILTY' TO MANSLAUGHTER CHARGES

written by WADE QUEEN

 

Elwood 'Woody' Six Elwood 'Woody' Six INEZ, KY. -- A Martin County man indicted for second degree manslaughter pleaded not guilty last week in court.

Law enforcement officials said Elwood "Woody" Six, 66, of Inez, shot and killed Rodney "Cockeye" Stepp in December 2017.

Six was arraigned in court Thursday May 17. A pre-trial hearing is set for June 21.

Rodney Stepp's wife told responding officers Elwood Six admitted to shooting her husband, a deputy said. Police said when they arrived at the scene they found the gun still in his pocket. Six has told relatives that he shot Stepp in self defense.

Elwood Six remains lodged at the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center in Paintsville, where he is being held on a $10,155 full cash bond.

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MCMS TEACHER PLEADS 'NOT GUILTY' TO SENDING INAPPROPRIATE MESSAGES TO A STUDENT

Cletus TurnerCletus TurnerA Martin County teacher pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday, May 17.

A grand jury indicted Cletus Ray Turner, 51, of Tomahawk, Kentucky, at the end of April, for sending inappropriate messages to a student.

Turner is accused of using his phone to procure or promote the use of a minor regarding sexual offenses.

The charge is a class D felony and the usual penalty is a 1-5 year sentence.

Turner has resigned his teaching position at Martin Co. Middle School.

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MARTIN CO. "GRAVE DIGGER" SUSPECT, RULED "INCOMPETENT" TO STAND TRIAL FOR DIGGING UP HIS GRANDMOTHER'S GRAVE; CASED DISMISSED


 

A Martin County man deputies say unearthed a Martin County grave was ruled incompetent to stand trial Thursday May 17.

In 2017, a Martin County grand jury indicted Tea Luster for digging up the grave of James Howard’s grandmother. James Howard and Jennifer Luster were also involved in the gruesome and macabre act. Both of them pleaded guilty to violating the grave.

The Martin County Sheriff said the three worked together to dig up the grave.

James Howard allegedly offered Tea Luster $10,000 to commit the crime.

A mental evaluation led commonwealth attorneys to dismiss Tea Luster’s case.

 



 

May 17, 2018

Prosecutor wants additional penalties in police officer's death

As law enforcement officers prepared to gather with their friends and families at the East Kentucky Expo Center on Tuesday, Pike Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Bartley was preparing his office to file to seek the death penalty against the man charged with the killing of Pikeville Police Officer Scotty Hamilton in March.

Accused killer John Russel Hall, 55, of Hurricane Branch, Pikeville, left and slain Pikeville Police Officer Scotty HamiltonAccused killer John Russel Hall, 55, of Hurricane Branch, Pikeville, left and slain Pikeville Police Officer Scotty HamiltonBartley took to the stage during Tuesday’s National Peace Officers Memorial Day event to announce that motion has now been filed in Pike Circuit Court, notifying the defense team of John Russel Hall, 55, of Hurricane Branch, Pikeville, that the Commonwealth would seek additional penalties in the case, including, but not limited to, the death penalty.

“We have to file a notice of intent, and a notice of aggravating factors,” Bartley said. “I have talked to Chelsi (Hamilton, Scotty’s widow) about it. We will be seeking all additional penalties including life with the possibility of parole after 25 years, life without the possibility of parole and death.”

Hall is being represented by public advocates Kim Green, of the Capital Trial Branch of the Office of Public Advocacy, and Brian Hewlett. Hall was indicted on one count of capital murder, two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, one count receiving stolen property and for being a persistent felony offender in the first degree in connection to the shooting of Officer Hamilton on the night of March 13.

Hall is being held in custody without bond in Carter County.

“If there are certain aggravating factors, then increased penalties are available, if the jury believes those aggravated factors,” Bartley said.

Bartley’s filing cited the aggravating factors as being; the killing of Hamilton was intentional and Hamilton was a police officer engaged in the lawful performance of his duties.

“The decision was not made lightly because it is the ultimate penalty allowed by law,” Bartley said. “In reviewing the evidence and discussing the case with the detectives, I made the decision to seek those enhanced penalties.”

Hall’s next court hearing is scheduled for May 24 in Pike Circuit Court.

By Chase Ellis
Appalachian News-Express

May 16, 2018

JOHNSON SHERIFF SAYS METH EPIDEMIC 'SHOWS NO SIGNS OF SLOWING DOWN'

A registered sex offender was found living in a vehicle at Thealka Park Monday after Johnson County Sheriff’s deputies noticed an extension cord coming from the vehicle plugged into a shelter outlet at the public park, according to a statement released by the sheriff's office.

The statement said JCSO deputies Lauren O’Bryan and Jerry Wiley were patrolling Thealka Park when they noticed the vehicle and made contact with the driver, Jessie Ward, 40, and noticed that Ward had “bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and delayed responses.”

Deputies ran Ward’s name through their database and discovered that he was a registered sex offender, the statement said.

Jessie Ward, left, and Ella Colvin were arrested for possession of drugs at Thealka Park.Jessie Ward, left, and Ella Colvin were arrested for possession of drugs at Thealka Park.Ward was sitting on a pair of brass knuckles, the statement said, and when deputies asked Ward and his passenger, Ella Colvin, 34, of Paintsville, if there was anything illegal in the vehicle, both responded that there was not.

But a search of the vehicle led to the discovery of four uncapped syringes, two plastic bags containing a white residue, one plastic bag containing blood, three straws suspected to be used in the snorting of drugs, a glass pipe suspected to be used to smoke methamphetamine and a prescription pill bottle with neither Ward nor Colvin’s name on the prescription.

The statement said Ward told deputies he and Colvin were homeless and living in their vehicle at the park, although Ward admitted he had been told by another deputy that they could not stay at the park past 10 p.m., and were using the shelter electricity without permission.

Ward and Colvin were arrested and lodged in the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center, where they both remained as of press time. Ward was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, third-degree criminal trespassing, theft of services with a value of less than $500, carrying a concealed weapon, public intoxication, second-degree wanton endangerment of a police officer, first-offense violation of registered sex offender residence restrictions and first-offense violation of registered sex offender playground restrictions.

Colvin was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, second-degree wanton endangerment of a police officer, third-degree criminal trespassing, theft of services with a value of less than $500 and third-degree possession of a controlled substance.

Court dates in Colvin and Ward’s cases had not been set as of press time Tuesday.

By Waylon Whitson
The Paintsville Herald

 

JOHNSON COUNTY METH ‘EPIDEMIC’ SHOWS NO SIGNS OF STOPPING

By Aaron K. Nelson
The Paintsville Herald

Numbers pulled from public records at the Johnson County Judicial Center show that though methamphetamine production is on the decline in Johnson County, possession and trafficking in meth are still very much on the rise. 

The figures were pulled for meth-related charges filed in both Johnson County District and Circuit Court. Some of the cases are redundant graduations of a felony case from the district to circuit level; many other circuit cases began with a presentment of evidence directly to a grand jury. Most of these charges were disposed with guilty pleas or convictions, while others were dismissed or amended down. 

The numbers for first-offense meth possession started with a handful of charges in 2008. They slowed down in 2012, but have skyrocketed since, peaking with 80 charges in 2017. As of early May, there have already been 26 such charges in 2018, meaning this year is on course for an estimated 73 cases — less than 2017’s peak, but still nearly three times the rate of possession in any other year.

“We’re completely eat up with it around here,” said Paintsville Police Chief Mike Roe. “It’s an epidemic.”

From 2010 through 2014, the actual manufacture of meth in Johnson County was on the rise — but it has since tapered off dramatically. First-offense manufacturing peaked in 2013 and 2014 with 20 cases each year, compared to just one case in 2016, one in 2017, and zero so far in 2018.

Roe said he’s seen this himself.

“A few years ago, you had manufacturing here. A lot of shake-and-bake,” Roe said, referring to the relatively easy — and dangerous — method for making low-quality methamphetamine in small, portable labs. “Now, it’s coming in from Detroit, Louisville, Huntington … everywhere.” 

The tidal wave of possession cases tied to a decrease in local meth manufacture means that the drug is now, for the most part, being shipped in from elsewhere. This is corroborated by the sharp increases in meth trafficking cases, which first started cropping up in 2012, and have climbed dramatically since. 

First-offense trafficking meth cases in 2017 were the highest on record, with 14 cases of individuals trafficking less than two grams and 15 cases of individuals trafficking two grams or more. 

Already in 2018, those trafficking numbers have been tied or exceeded, with 14 cases of first-offense trafficking less than two grams and 16 cases of first-offense trafficking two grams or more. That puts 2018 on course to shatter previous records for trafficking busts.

Second-offense trafficking has been a much rarer charge, with at most one case each year. Compare that to 2018, which has already had four charges of second-offense trafficking, all of which were for two grams or more. 

“I would say trafficking is our top priority,” Roe said. “Busting these dealers.”

Those with any information that could assist law enforcement in investigating drug trafficking cases can supply tips anonymously. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at, (606) 789-3411, and the Paintsville Police Department at, (606) 789-2603.

 

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