Judge will let jury hear testimony, see footage in Scott deputy's theft trial

gkocher1@herald-leader.comJune 24, 2014 

GEORGETOWN — A judge has overruled motions that sought to suppress evidence at trial about a former Scott County deputy sheriff accused of taking drugs and cash from an evidence safe.

The rulings by Scott Circuit Judge Rob Johnson mean that a jury will see video camera footage of the alleged crime and will hear testimony that the defense sought to suppress.

William Jeremy Day, 38, was indicted in 2012 on six counts of theft of a controlled substance and one count of theft by unlawful taking. He is scheduled to go on trial July 21 in Scott Circuit Court.

Defense attorney Jerry Wright had maintained that certain statements and testimony should be excluded because Day was not notified of his Miranda rights. Wright also cited a provision from a state law saying that if a police officer is a suspect in any criminal investigation, "he shall be afforded the same constitutional due process rights that are accorded to any civilian, including, but not limited to, the right to remain silent and the right to counsel," and he shall be notified of those rights.

But Johnson ruled that Day's statements were voluntary, were not coerced, and that the state law cited by Wright applies only to those cases in which a citizen's complaint is made against an officer — not to cases arising from an internal criminal investigation.

Scott County Sheriff Tony Hampton testified during a June 11 hearing that other deputies had made him aware in 2011 about irregularities surrounding the evidence safe where seized drugs and cash were kept. Hampton asked Kentucky State Police to investigate. State police Detective Kevin Calhoun testified that Day initially denied taking anything, but that he later "admitted to taking several pills out of the safe."

Day said he took the pills to ease pain from a previous back injury, Calhoun testified at the hearing. Sheriff Hampton testified that Day was not supposed to have the combination to the safe.

Recordings from a surveillance camera inside the sheriff's department showed Day moving the camera away from the safe, and later moving the camera back to its original position. Day admitted to Calhoun and state police Detective David "Buck" Brennan that each time he moved the camera, he took pills from the safe, Calhoun said.

Wright had filed a motion to suppress the video camera footage because the sheriff's office failed to preserve all the footage in the narcotics evidence locker during the time the crimes allegedly took place. Only footage thought to be pertinent to the charges was preserved.

Johnson ruled that the camera footage will come in at trial.

"Defendant has admitted that each time he turned the camera within the narcotics evidence locker, he was taking narcotics," Johnson wrote. "Without proof of how the additional video footage might be relevant to the defendant's case, the court finds that the lack thereof is irrelevant to this matter."

Last year, Johnson rejected a proposed plea deal in which Day would have served no jail time. Johnson said at the time that pretrial diversion was too lenient a punishment. The judge's decision stopped Day from entering a guilty plea in the case.

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

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service