Grand jury indicts Pulaski minister charged in Danville triple homicide

gkocher1@herald-leader.comOctober 22, 2013 

DANVILLE — A Boyle County grand jury has indicted a Pulaski County minister in a Sept. 20 triple homicide at a Danville pawn shop.

Kenneth Allen Keith, 48, was indicted on three counts of murder, one count of first-degree robbery and one count of first-degree burglary. The indictment was returned Monday.

Keith, pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Burnside, is charged with fatally shooting Michael Hockensmith, 35, and his wife, Angela Hockensmith, 38, both of Stanford; and gold broker Daniel Smith, 60, of Richmond.

The three were killed at ABC Gold Games and More in Danville, a store co-owned by the Hockensmiths.

The shootings happened in the presence of the Hockensmiths' 9-year-old son and 14-month-old daughter. The boy called 911 to report that his parents had been shot.

Keith pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned last week in Boyle District Court. A judge had scheduled a preliminary hearing for Wednesday, but that proceeding is canceled now that Keith has been indicted, said Commonwealth's Attorney Richie Bottoms.

There was no preliminary hearing in this case because "we were ready for the presentation to the grand jury," Bottoms said. He said he has not decided whether to pursue the death penalty in the Keith case.

"It's certainly an option that's there," he said.

Bottoms said he wants to discuss the matter with the relatives of the Hockensmiths and Smith before deciding whether to seek the death penalty.

"A decision will be made down the road on that," Bottoms said.

State law requires an "aggravating circumstance" — an accompanying crime or circumstance such as robbery — to make homicide eligible for the death penalty.

Defense attorney Mark Stanziano of Somerset said he was not surprised by Monday's indictment or that the preliminary hearing is now canceled.

"Frankly, if I were them (prosecutors), I wouldn't give me an open shot at a cop in a prelim in a circumstantial-evidence case," Stanziano said.

The prosecution, Stanziano said, "wants to control the narrative. Indicting him, which is just a formal way of charging him; helps keep control of the narrative."

Bottoms reiterated Tuesday that the evidence against Keith is solid.

Danville police Detective Kevin Peel was the sole witness to testify before the grand jury.

Keith remains in the Boyle County jail with no bond. He will be arraigned before Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Peckler on Nov. 5.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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