A judge has denied a motion to move the trial of an ex-preacher charged with murdering three people at a Danville pawn shop.
In an order filed Tuesday, Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Peckler denied a motion to move the trial from Danville for Kenneth Allen Keith, the former Pulaski County preacher charged with murder in the 2013 shooting deaths of a Stanford couple and a Richmond man.
Peckler wrote that he “would find it unusual in a small community for citizens within that community not to have heard of, or to have read about or seen something involving a ‘sensational’ case. Nothing, however, ... has convinced the court that fair-minded people would not be able to truthfully answer questions (during jury selection) or to set aside any preconceived notions that they may have had once the facts of the case are presented, under oath, in the courtroom.”
The defense had pointed to a telephone survey of Boyle County residents as evidence that Keith cannot receive a fair trial there. But the judge wrote that he is confident a thorough and careful questioning of potential jurors “can ensure that only impartial jurors will be selected for trial.”
Keith, 51, former pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Burnside, has pleaded not guilty to the murders of Michael Hockensmith, 35, his wife, Angela Hockensmith, 38, both of Stanford, and gold broker Daniel Smith, 60, of Richmond, in the Danville pawn shop co-owned by the Hockensmiths in September 2013.
If convicted, Keith could face the death penalty.