NICHOLASVILLE — Anger over shoplifted beer and a voiced threat to his family caused Curtis L. Flora to pummel a man to death with his fists, according to the testimony of a Jessamine County sheriff's detective Monday.
Flora, 36, of Lexington faces a murder charge in the New Year's Eve assault that led to the death of James Dean Wallace, 32, of Lexington. The assault occurred in Jessamine County, but Wallace died Jan. 2 at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital in Lexington.
The assault charge was amended to murder during a preliminary hearing Monday in Jessamine District Court. Judge Janet Booth found probable cause to send the case to a grand jury to consider for possible indictment. The grand jury meets this week, but Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Lockridge said the case would come before a grand jury at a later date.
Wallace was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Flora, Detective Sgt. John Bourne testified. Flora was angry that Wallace, who was "heavily intoxicated," allegedly had shoplifted some beer from a BP station on U.S. 27 north of Nicholasville, Bourne testified. Flora feared the shoplifting could bring the attention of police to them.
In addition, according to Flora's statement to Bourne, Wallace allegedly made a threat to Flora and his child. Rankled by this, Flora stopped the vehicle on Vince Road, got out, went around to the passenger side and began beating Wallace, Bourne said.
Flora then drove Wallace to Flora's residence in north Lexington, where someone called 911. Bourne wasn't sure who called, but Lexington police and firefighters responded.
Wallace died of traumatic brain injury resulting from blunt-force injuries to the head, according to the Fayette County coroner's office. Lexington police turned the investigation over to Bourne after learning that the assault happened in Jessamine County.
Judge Booth rejected a request from public defender Stacy Coontz to set a property bond for Flora, who remains in the Jessamine County jail in Nicholasville.