Lexington man accused in December homicide pleads not guilty

Police say Ragland admitted to hitting Mitchell in December

jkegley@herald-leader.comSeptember 30, 2011 

A Lexington man pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder in connection with a December homicide.

Police arrested Patrick Deon Ragland, 38, Wednesday night. He is accused of bludgeoning Kerry "Sam" Mitchell to death. Mitchell was found dead in his North Limestone apartment at 9:50 a.m. Dec. 28.

According to a police report, Ragland and Mitchell were acquaintances. Further details of their relationship were not revealed Thursday.

Police obtained enough information during nearly nine months of investigation to charge Ragland, police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said. She declined to elaborate on what linked Ragland to the slaying.

According to a police report, Ragland was interviewed at police headquarters, where he admitted to beating Mitchell. He told police "that he had struck the victim," the report said.

The strikes "caused the death of the victim," it said.

The coroner's report said Mitchell, 35, died from blunt-force head injury.

Two women found Mitchell's body while checking on him. Friends and relatives had not heard from Mitchell in about a week.

"Kerry was very much loved by those who knew him. We are all very much devastated by his gruesome and untimely death, but we have full confidence that the Lexington police department will act swiftly to find his killer," Mitchell family attorney Astrida Lemkins said at the time.

Roberts said police found several pieces of evidence at Mitchell's apartment, "one of which could have been the murder weapon."

Mitchell, who was unemployed and received disability payments, had lived with friend Jackie Miller in Versailles for more than a month before moving to the Lexington apartment a little more than a week before he was killed, Miller said at the time of Mitchell's death.

Mitchell's brother Kris Mitchell has said that he last saw his brother Dec. 22, and that the man seemed fine.

When Kerry Mitchell didn't call or go home to Lawrenceburg for Christmas, Kris Mitchell said, the family suspected something was wrong.

Kris Mitchell called Miller, who has known the family since she was about 5 years old, and asked her to check on his brother. She and a friend went to his apartment and discovered Mitchell, who had been dead for several days.

In addition to murder, Ragland is being held at the Fayette County jail on unrelated charges of probation violation, theft, fraudulent use of a credit card and being a persistent felon. He was sentenced to drug court for those charges but was serving jail time for violating his release when police brought him to headquarters for questioning Wednesday, according to court documents.

Ragland is scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing Oct. 3.

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