Judge refuses bond for minister charged in triple slaying; more evidence released

gkocher1@herald-leader.comDecember 2, 2013 

— DANVILLE — Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Peckler refused Monday to set bond for minister Kenneth Allen Keith after a detective testified that money-related items belonging to one of three people killed in a Danville pawn shop were found in the Somerset pawn store Keith operated.

Keith, 48, pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Burnside in Pulaski County, has been in jail without bond since he was charged Oct. 9 in the Danville shooting deaths. He remains in the Boyle County jail in Danville.

Keith is charged with three counts of murder and one count of first-degree robbery in the deaths of Michael Hockensmith, 35, and his wife, Angela Hockensmith, 38, both of Stanford, and gold broker Daniel Smith, 60, of Richmond. The three were shot and killed in a pawn shop co-owned by the Hockensmiths.

Under Kentucky law, a defendant has a right to have a bail bond set except in the case of a capital offense if the presumption of guilt is great.

After a 30-minute hearing, Peckler ruled that the presumption of guilt was great.

During that hearing, Danville police detective Kevin Peel testified about evidence that allegedly ties Keith to the Danville slayings.

Peel said police found a .22-caliber shell casing inside Gold Rush Gold Buyers in Somerset, operated by Keith, that matched casings found at ABC Gold Games & More, where the three were killed. That evidence was released previously in an affidavit by Peel. (He said autopsy findings suggested a larger-caliber weapon, such as a .38-caliber, might have been used in addition to a .22-caliber gun.)

Peel also testified that money bands and a receipt that had belonged to Daniel Smith, the gold broker, were found at the Somerset store.

Each of the four money bands was used to bind $10,000 in cash, Peel testified. Police learned that Smith had received $40,000 in cash from Fifth Third Bank in Lexington on Sept. 19, the day before the Danville shootings, Peel said.

Each band had a stamped date and a unique number identifying the vault from which the cash was withdrawn, the detective said.

In addition, police found a copy of a receipt that Smith had given to Batmark Engraving Gifts and Jewelry in Lexington in a trash bag at Gold Rush Gold Buyers, Peel said.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Mark Stanziano referred to the Hockensmiths' 9-year-old son, Andrew, who was in the Danville store at the time of the shootings and who called 911 to report the slayings.

Stanziano asked whether the boy had witnessed "all the killings."

"Yes," Peel said.

Stanziano asked whether the boy had known Keith "for some time."

Peel said he didn't know.

Had the boy identified the shooter during the 911 call as "Keith" or "Uncle Allen?" Stanziano asked.

No, Peel said.

Does Keith have the means to flee, such as a passport?

"I'm not sure if he has a passport," Peel said.

Stanziano asked whether Keith had a criminal record.

"Nothing that was very substantial," Peel said.

In a statement to police, had Keith given any admission "that he had done any of this?" Stanziano asked.

"No," Peel said.

Nevertheless, Peckler denied application for a bond. A status conference in the case is set for Feb. 4.

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

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