Spotlight

Spotlighting Top Criminal Justice Stories in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative lands 47 felons in jail in Lexington Kentucky. 

By WKYT News Staff | 

Posted: Sat 4:03 PM, May 12, 2018     

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – Lexington Police have arrested 47 people in connection to a felony offender roundup.

Police say on Wednesday and Thursday, more than 60 felony warrants were served, seven guns were taken, 81-hundred dollars in cash, 270 grams of meth, 220 grams of heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana.

Police say the roundup is part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative, which focuses on violent offenders with significant charges, such as assault, wanton endangerment, sex crimes, trafficking in narcotics, high dollar thefts, probation violations for felony offenses and other serious crimes.

The Lexington Police Department worked with the Fayette County Sheriff, Kentucky State Police, ATF, the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, the DEA, and the U.S. Marshals Service to execute the roundup.

Here is a full list of people who were charged:

Barton, Kenneth, A.
PFO II Warrant Served

Bent, Lawrence
Carrying Concealed Weapon, PDP, PCS 1st-Heroin, TICS (Meth)

Blackwell, Savannah 
Unlawful Access to Computer Warrant, RSP U/$500 Warrant, Probation Violation (Felony) Warrant

Burdell, Thomas R. 
Flagrant Non Support Warrant, FTA, Contempt, TICS 1st

Bradley, Derrick D.
Fleeing 1st(MV) Warrant, RSP U/$10,000 Warrant, Poss of Cont Sub 1st-3rd Offense Heroin Warrant, Poss of Handgun by Convicted Felon Warrant, PDP Warrant, PFO I Warrant

Briggs, Kim, R.
PCS 1st-Cocaine, PDP, Giving Officer False Identifying Info, Contempt of Court

Centers, Darren
Parole Violation (Felony) Warrant

Collins, Essence
TICS (Heroin)

Cox, Taylor L 
Burglary 2nd Warrant, TBUT U/$500

Finnell, Thomas E. 
FTA Warrant

Fishback, Demarco 
Flagrant Non Support Warrant

Floyd, Jeffery 
Contempt of Court, Flagrant Non Support Warrant

Hall, Corey M. 
TBUT O/$500 Warrant, TBUT O/$500

Hanley, Michael 
Violations of Conditions of Release, TICS 1st-Heroin, Tampering, PDP, Resisting Arrest

Hayes, Michael 
Probation Violation Warrant

Hawkins, Teddy, S.
TICS (Heroin), Firearm

Hazuga, Caz G. 
Criminal Poss Forged Inst 2nd Warrant x3, Criminal Poss Forged Inst 2nd x3

Hinkle, Stephanie 
Probation Violation Warrant x2

Huff, Dallas
TBUT Shoplifting O/$500 Warrant

Huff, Kara 
Burglary 2nd Warrant x2, Theft of Identity Warrant, TBUT O/$500 Warrant, Theft by Deception Warrant, Fraud Use of CC Warrant, Careless Driving Warrant, PDP Warrant, Poss Cont Sub 1st-2nd Offense-Cocaine Warrant, Poss Cont Sub 1st-Heroin Warrant, Criminal Poss Forged Inst 2nd Warrant, Promoting 1st Warrant, Giving Officer False Info Warrant, PFO 1st Warrant

Jarrell, Brandy 
TBUT Warrant, Poss Cont Subs.-Heroin, Poss of Marijuana

Johnson, Bryan W.
Parole Violation (Felony) Warrant

Johnson, Charles W. 
Poss Cont Subs-Heroin, PDP, Contempt of Court x2

Johnson, Johnathan 
Assault 4th (Dating) Warrant

Johnson, William C. 
FTA Warrant x2

Juvenile 
Fleeing/Evading 2nd (Foot), Receiving Stolen Firearm, Poss of Handgun by Minor, Tampering

Juvenile
RSP (Firearm)

Lee, Porche
PDP, Endangering Welfare of Minor, TICS – Heroin, TICS – Meth

Lowe, Julian S. Jr.
Fleeing/Evading 1st (MV) Warrant, Leaving the Scene of Accident

Martinez, Frank 
Sodomy 1st Warrant, Sexual Abuse 1st Victim U/12 x 5 Warrant, Contempt Warrant

McGowan, Robert
TICS (heroin), possibly related to an overdose death

Minniefield, Krystal M. 
FTA Warrant

Mobley, Michael L.
Carrying Concealed Weapon, PDP, Endangering Welfare of Minor, Poss of Handgun by Convicted Felon, TICS – Heroin, TCS – Meth

Morrison, Virginia 
Theft By Deception Warrant

Perez, Daniel 
RSP O/$500 Warrant, TBUT-Felony Warrant

Phillips, Sheri A. 
Hindering Warrant

Roberts, Angie D.
Poss Cont Subs-Cocaine, PDP

Rudd, Jarred
Probation Violation (Felony) Warrant

Smith, Anthony D. 
Flagrant Non Support Warrant, FTA, Contempt

Smithhart, David
PDP, Poss Cont Subs – Heroin, TICS – Meth

Stockton, Kenneth P. 
Fraud Use of Credit Card Warrant

Washington, Demarquis, O’Brien 
Flagrant Non Support Warrant, Probation Violation (Misdemeanor)

Warmouth, Brian 
TBUT O/$500 Warrant

Williams, Jackie 
FTA- Poss of Synthetic Drugs Warrant

Williams, Terence A. 
TBUT-Shoplifting O/$500 Warrants x2

Wireman, Rosa
PDP, Giving Officer False Name, FTA Warrant

Young, Bobby R.
Assault 2nd DV Warrant

Kentucky Governor Signs Anti-Gang Bill.

April 27, 2018

House Bill 169 signed into law by Bevin sought to target those who recruit young people into violent criminal gangs, expanding the legal definition of a gang and increasing mandatory sentences for gang members who commit crimes.

The gang bill had the backing of the Kentucky State Police and Kentucky League of Cities — in addition to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and LMPD Chief Steve Conrad — but other groups like the ACLU of Kentucky and Louisville Urban League strongly opposed it, fearing that it would be used to racially profile African-Americans as a similar bill wound up doing in Mississippi.

This is a great day in the Commonwealth of Kentucky!

Anyone found to be recruiting people to join gangs will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Furthermore, anyone known to be a member of a gang who commits a crime will face harsher sentencing from the courts in Kentucky.

This historic anti-gang bill will help to curb the illegal activities of the street gangs and the motorcycle gangs operating in Kentucky. Up until now these thugs have walked our streets and rode down our highways in bold arrogance as if they were untouchable. Street gangs in Kentucky and motorcycle gangs in Kentucky have been on a shooting spree for years between rival gangs and innocent citizens have been victims as well. 

Those days are over! The days of gangs doing as they damn well please in the Commonwealth of Kentucky ended as Governor Matt Bevin signed House Bill 169 into law on April 27, 2018.

From now on these gangsters will be under constant scrutiny by local, state and federal authorities and if they make one wrong move, they will face the onslaught of the Kentucky Criminal Justice System. 

Thank you Governor Bevin.

Horse Cave, Kentucky Police Department Under Investigation By The FBI.

April 25, 2018

HORSE CAVE, Ky. (WBKO) — Several court cases involving the Horse Cave Police Department were recently dismissed in Hart County.

The Horse Cave Police Department is back up and running under new leadership, but officials say an FBI investigation that began earlier this year still continues.

“The investigation is what really sparked everything. As a matter of fact, I had been stating that in court for about four years that I felt like there were things going on that were unconstitutional, things in violation of the law, things like setting people up in essence,” says Johnny Bell, an attorney in Barren County.

Bell says four or five cases dismissed in Hart County involved his clients. He tells 13 News that over the years, he’s had several clients make allegations against the Horse Cave Police Department.

“A lot of them stated basically that there were drugs planted on them, and that they were coerced very heavily and held for a period of time that would go beyond what we would consider constitutional,” he says.

According to Bell, the cases dismissed in Hart County involved those where an officer had been named in an investigation or indictment.

“I think what happened here was that officers just lost their credibility and weren’t able to testify and to prove the case, and therefore, they were dismissed,” he explains.

He went on the say, “In open court I asked one of the officers if he did in fact plant drugs on my client and he took the Fifth Amendment.”

Bell says the cases dismissed involved officers who are not currently with the department.

According to Horse Cave’s Mayor, Randall Curry, the city is working on bringing the police department back to a “common ground and move forward.”

Curry, as well as the department’s current Police Chief, David Graves, says the Horse Cave Police Department has three full-time officers right now and one part-time officer. They’re looking to hire two more officers.

In an email from the FBI, officials say there is “nothing to share” at this time regarding the investigation at the police department.

Lexington homicide rate on fastest pace in 20 years.

It should be noted that many (if not most) of these shootings are occurring where we at Bluegrass Crime Watch Bureau are seeking to form trained Neighborhood Watch Groups: the Cardinal Valley Area, the 7th Street area, and the Georgetown Street area in particular. If you live in these areas and want to join our Neighborhood Watch group, contact us today! 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – Lexington police say it has been since 1998 since the city had 10 homicide cases this early in the year.

Police say out of the 24 homicides that occurred in 1998, 10 happened by Mar. 15.

The Georgetown Street corridor of Lexington experienced multiple cases of gun violence over the weekend, including a deadly Friday night shooting which claimed the life of 19-year-old Devon Guest. Guest was the city’s 10th homicide victim in 2018.

“It’s tough for us to hear gunshots,” Jacques Wigginton, who lives in the area, says, “It’s unfortunate because it really gets a blemish that it doesn’t deserve.”

While police increase patrols in the area, officers are concerned this trend could continue as the weather gets warm. 2017, which was a record-setting year for homicides in Lexington, saw a bulk of its cases in the latter half of the year.

“71 percent of all of our homicides last year occurred toward the end of the year from July to December,” Lexington police lieutenant Albert Johnson said, “There’s really no rhyme or reason as to why those numbers fluctuate.”

Lexington is currently on pace to eclipse 30 homicide cases in 2018, which would break the 2017 record of 28.

All 10 Lexington homicides occurred involved guns, and half of the victims were teenagers. Wigginton believes parents need to play a larger role in guiding children to avoid a path toward gun violence.

“Our problem is with us as adults that we haven’t created the environment for them to be successful,” Wigginton says.

Police have announced arrests in half the cases. Most of the cases have stemmed from a drug-related dispute.

Supervisors meet weekly to discuss problem areas and devote more resources to those locations, but they say that strategy often moves crime locations to other portions of the city.

KY gets $3 million to fight sexual assault, rape.

A grant will soon help expedite the testing of a backlog of rape kits in Kentucky.

Attorney General Andy Beshear announced the state is receiving a $3 million grant to help with testing sexual assault and rape kits and speeding up the process for justice for victims.

Some sexual assault and rape victims in Kentucky have waited decades for justice.

An audit in 2015 revealed more than 3,000 untested rape and sexual assault kits statewide.

“They represented survivors, real people who had suffered real pain,” Attorney General Andy Beshear said Wednesday.

A previous $2 million grant from the District Attorney of New York helped the state send those kits to be tested.

The new grant will go a step further, testing 1,500 more kits. It will also create a unit to investigate old cold cases, and create a research team to look into new policies to prevent the backlog from ever happening again.

“Testing the kits was just the beginning,” Beshear said.

Dr. Brad Campbell, an assistant professor at the University of Louisville, will help lead the research portion of the grant.

“Even just one or two is an issue,” Campbell said of the untested kits. “It’s frustrating to see that there’s that delayed justice.”

He’s done this sort of research before as a masters student in Houston. There, he learned the backlog came from a system-wide break down. So he worked to create ‘victim-first’ policies.

“The victims are involved and informed every step of the way so that we don’t have another situation where we might have a kit that doesn’t get tested,” Campbell said.

“It means we’re going to be accountable about how we go investigating,” Beshear said.

Thanks to new laws from Senate Bill 63, which passed in 2016 and created regulations around sexual assault and rape kits, paired with the money, the state is setting an example.

“There are states that are kind of modeling Kentucky and looking at what they’ve done,” Campbell said.

While all 3,000 kits have been tested, they still have to go through a review process. So far, 970 have made it through that process. About 300 DNA profiles have been created and officials have matched more than 100 DNA hits already in the system.

There’s been one indictment so far. It happened in Jefferson County and the man accused is already in jail for several rape counts.

Kentucky was one of seven states to receive the new grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Law Enforcement Announces New Initiative to Combat Violent Crime in Lexington.

Initiative partners federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, to enhance coordination of efforts and available resources.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Today, Robert M. Duncan, Jr., the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Lou Anna Red Corn, the Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney, along with the Lexington Police Department (LPD), the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and other local, state and federal law enforcement partners announced a new working group to enhance the joint effort to combat violent crime and drug trafficking in Lexington.

The working group, which met formally for the first time on January 18, 2018, meets twice a month.  The new working group joins two existing violent crime reduction efforts, the Cease Fire Project and the Fayette County Violent Crime Task Force, under one working group, to enhance coordination of efforts and available resources. 

The collaboration is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s enhanced Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, a violent crime reduction program incorporating long-standing law enforcement partnerships to help produce a long-term, meaningful reduction in violent crime.  PSN is a comprehensive approach to public safety, one that includes prevention, enforcement, and reentry efforts.       

The working group will focus its efforts on individuals responsible for violent crimes and significant drug trafficking activities in the area, including those who commit acts of violence while armed with a firearm and those who commit armed drug trafficking.  As part of the collaborative partnership, members of the LPD, FCSO, ATF, FBI, DEA, and the other law enforcement partners meet regularly to share intelligence and to review cases about the most violent offenders in Lexington, including those cases in which the offender’s conduct involves possession or use of a firearm.  The cases are evaluated to insure that the most significant penalties will be applied to the offenders, whether in state or federal court.  The ultimate goal of the collaboration is to reduce violent crime and make Lexington neighborhoods safer for everyone.   

 “As Attorney General Sessions has confirmed, combatting violent crime, reducing access to drugs, and partnering with state and local law enforcement efforts are top priorities for the Department of Justice,” said U.S. Attorney Duncan.  “By combining our resources and working together to investigate and prosecute the most violent individuals in Lexington, we are sending a clear message that we will protect our communities against those who do them harm.  If you are using firearms to commit acts of violence or are illegally selling drugs you are on notice:  your conduct will not be tolerated; and if it continues, you risk arrest, prosecution, and the forfeiture of your freedom.”       

“The Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney Office has worked closely with the United States Attorney’s Office on the Cease Fire Project for many years,” said Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn.  “Cease Fire focuses primarily on armed career criminals.  Our local Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF) began meeting regularly in October 2016, with a goal of sharing information and reducing criminal activity committed by gang members.  The joining of Cease Fire and the VCTF under the enhanced PSN program, along with the education, prevention, and reentry efforts, gives us a real opportunity to impact violent crime in Lexington, and I am glad for this collaborative initiative.”

In addition to enforcement, the PSN program also incorporate prevention and education efforts.  “We want to encourage partnerships within our communities, not just within the law enforcement community,” said U.S. Attorney Duncan.  As part of those efforts, PSN participants will meet with various community organizations, civic groups, and schools to better understand the community’s needs, to provide education about the dangers of violent crime, and to look for positive solutions to reduce crime and increase safety. 

Additionally, the PSN program is supportive of reentry meetings in which those returning from prison sentences are provided information about transitioning to free society, and the potential consequences for continuing to commit crimes.      

Today’s announcement observes U.S. Attorney General Sessions’s directives to federal law enforcement and prosecutors:  reinvigorate the Project Safe Neighborhoods Program, in an effort to reduce rising violent crime in America and combat access to illegal drugs, particularly opiates and opioids. 

Kentucky leaders push for criminal justice changes to curb prison population

February 20, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – With Kentucky’s prisons expected to run out of space by mid-2019, proposals to curb rising incarceration rates picked up some momentum as lawmakers begin considering the legislation.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesday spoke at a statehouse event where proposals were touted to steer more drug offenders toward treatment and away from incarceration.

Kentucky’s prison population is forecast to rise by 19 percent in the next decade, strapping taxpayers with nearly $600 million in additional costs.

Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley says lawmakers have a chance to make “transformational” changes to cut the state’s prison population.

A key proposal would reclassify first and second drug possession convictions to a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Another change would raise the felony theft threshold from $500 to $2,000.

 

Bill to Combat Gang Recruitment Advances

February 8, 2018

Associated Press

FRANKFORT, KY – Hoping to stop the influx of young recruits into gangs, Kentucky lawmakers advanced a bill Wednesday that would toughen sentences for luring children into the groups.

While police officials from Louisville and Lexington — the state’s two largest cities — lined up in support before a House committee, the measure drew critics. They included some black ministers and community activists who worried that the legislation is so broadly drafted that it would wrongly ensnare people who live among gangs but don’t belong to them.

“You’ve got to make sure that it doesn’t grab up a bunch of guppies when you’re trying to get sharks,” said Eddie Woods, an activist whose work includes drug and gang intervention.

The bill approved by the House Judiciary Committee would make it a felony for adults to recruit young gang members, and require them to serve most of their sentences. The offense is now a misdemeanor. It also would create enhanced penalties for gang-related violent crimes.

Republican Rep. Robert Benvenuti III of Lexington, the bill’s lead sponsor, referred to gang activity as “the most critical public protection issue” facing Kentucky.

The bill, he said, would “protect some of Kentucky’s most vulnerable children, and significantly reduce the carnage and human suffering that directly flows … from gang criminal activity.”

While presenting the bill to the committee, Benvenuti was flanked by police officers and a prosecutor who support the measure.

Gangs are responsible for a litany of crimes including drug and human trafficking, robberies and money laundering, police officials said. Gang recruitment is reaching children as young as 8 to 10 years old, Benvenuti said.

Besides carrying the tougher penalties for gang recruitment of youngsters, the bill would require adult offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. Violent gang-related crimes would also carry the requirement of serving at least 85 percent of the sentence.

Those offenders now often serve about 20 percent of their sentences, Benvenuti said.

The longer sentencing requirements would add to Kentucky’s costly problem with prison overcrowding, critics said. They also pointed to recent comments by Kentucky’s top public safety official, who told lawmakers that the state’s prisons will run out of space by May 2019.

The bill also would create new definitions for criminal gangs and criminal gang syndicates.

The Rev. Anthony Everett said lawmakers should avoid punitive measures, and instead focus on more “humane approaches” to try to “shake the gang ties out of young men.” Intervention efforts, he said, should include job training, mentoring and after-school and recreational programs.

Critics worried that non-gang members who dress similarly to gang members and live among them could mistakenly get associated with them.

“Some folks, to stay alive, associate with folks who are in gangs. It doesn’t mean they’re going to do gang activity,” said community activist Anthony Smith.

 

School Shooting At Marshall County High School, Benton, Kentucky.

January 23, 2018

Marshall County, KY

Two people were killed and seventeen injured in Benton, Kentucky when a 15 year old shooter opened fire inside Marshall County High School.

What we know

  • The shooter opened fire at Marshall County High School in southwestern Kentucky around 8 am local time on Tuesday, as students gathered at a common area before the day’s first classes.
  • At least two students were killed, according to Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. A 15-year-old girl was killed immediately, while a 15-year-old boy later died at the hospital.
  • At least 20 others were injured, 12 with gunshot wounds, Bevin said. All the victims are believed to be students. 15 year old Bailey Holt died at the scene. 15 year old Preston Cope died at the hospital. 
  • Hundreds of students reportedly fled the school during the shooting, according to Mitchell Garland, a local business owner.
  • Police apprehended the shooter, the Associated Press reported.
  • The shooter is a 15-year-old male student, who will be charged with murder and attempted murder, Bevin said.
  • The alleged shooter’s identity is so far undisclosed since he’s a juvenile, but it will be made public if the case is successfully moved, as the local prosecutor wants, to adult court and the suspect is indicted by a grand jury.
  • Police have no reason to suspect anyone else was involved in the shooting, a state detective told the Murray Ledger and Times.
  • Police said the school is now secure.
  • The Kentucky shooting is the first fatal school shooting of 2018, according to the AP.
  • The shooting comes a day after another shooting at a high school in Italy, Texas, where a 16-year-old student shot a 15-year-old girl, who is now recovering from her injuries.
  • Four victims were hospitalized. Three in critical but stable condition. 
  • Officials said sheriff deputies arrested the gunman nine minutes after he opened fire, thanks to a series of early 911 calls.

This part of Kentucky has seen school shootings in the past, the AP reported: “Marshall County High School is about 30 minutes from Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, where a 1997 mass shooting killed three and injured five.”

So far in 2018, there have been at least eleven school shootings throughout the United States, based on media reports and data from Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that advocates for gun control.

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