It seems the public's interest in crime and courts has never been higher. All one has to do is look at the lineup of television programs devoted to cops and robbers, jails and prisons, solving crimes or lawyers either prosecuting criminals or defending them. It is with that public interest in mind that I will try to use this space to report some of the interesting and frightening information about crime and crime-fighting efforts in Lexington.
Serious crimes in Lexington through November 2012:
Part I Crimes are the most serious crimes that occur in cities across America. Law enforcement agencies report the incidence of these crimes to the FBI, which then creates a report about crime in America.
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Violent crimes include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crimes include breaking and entering (burglary), larceny-theft (breaking into autos, serious theft), auto theft and arson.
Through November, 12,095 Part I Crimes were reported to the Lexington Division of Police. Of those, 92 percent were what our legislature refers to as "non-violent" property crimes, and 8 percent were violent crimes.
Why, you might ask, are there so many "non-violent" property crimes committed in Lexington? Our legislature has determined that Kentucky cannot afford to send as many convicted criminals to prison. There are too many criminals in our jails and prisons, they say. In an attempt to reduce the inmate numbers, prison inmates are being released early, and our sentencing laws discourage sending criminals convicted of drug and property crimes to prison, and encourage leaving them on our streets through probation. Unfortunately, if these prolific property criminals have no realistic fear of incarceration, then they also have no reason to obey the law. And they don't.
Lexington's repeat offenders are prolific criminals who commit most of the crime
Study after study has shown what police and prosecutors have known for a long time — that a small percentage of the criminals commit the vast majority of the crime. Obviously, from the crime statistics, the crime of choice for these prolific, predatory criminals is property crime. And they commit them over and over.
So far in 2012 the Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Office has prosecuted 305 repeat felony offenders. This group of 305 criminals has committed a significant number of crimes in our community.
Repeat Offenders in 2012:
■ 305 repeat felony offenders
■ 3,822 prior convictions (felonies & misdemeanors)
■ 12.5 average prior convictions per offender
These prolific criminals are precisely the criminals who should be incarcerated.
Property Crime facts:
■ The value of property stolen in Lexington through November2012, is almost $20 million. (That doesn't include the damage to property during the thefts).
■ More property crimes occur between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.
■ The most common property crimes are felony theft, residential burglary and burglary of a motor vehicle.
Who are some of these "Frequent Felony Fliers?"
Case No. 1: Career property thief (28 prior convictions) sent to prison by Judge James Ishmael.
Christopher Hurt, 27, has accumulated 28 prior criminal convictions. Most of them are for theft and receiving stolen property. In his most recent case, Hurt was arrested with other criminals for selling stolen copper and iron fittings at a local scrap-yard. When interviewed by police, Hurt told them that sentence for what he did was only one to five years, and "I'll be out in two months for drug treatment." Hurt had one probation violation and several fugitive warrants for pending criminal charges in other counties. He was sent to prison for five years, but will be eligible for parole after serving 20 percent of that sentence.
Case No. 2: Richard Darnall, another career property thief (26 prior convictions) sent to prison by Judge Tom Clark.
Darnall, 45, was charged with third-degree burglary and being a persistent felon. He admitted to numerous other burglaries and told police that burglary was his "life's work." He said he only broke into stores because that way he would be eligible for both probation and parole after serving only 20 percent of his sentence. This one-man crime wave has, in addition to 26 prior convictions, three parole violations, and was arrested within six months of his release. He was sent to prison for 12 years, and will be eligible for parole after serving 20 percent of his sentence.
Case No. 3: Paroled career property criminal (33 prior convictions) sent back behind bars by Judge Pamela Goodwine.
Christopher Brown, 33, admitted to breaking into cars at theater, athletic club and shopping center parking lots. He told police that breaking into cars is what he does and that he will "do it until the day I die." He pled guilty in October to theft of credit cards and being a persistent felon. He was sent to prison for 22 years. He too is eligible for parole after he serves 20 percent of his sentence. In addition to 33 prior convictions, mostly for theft-related crimes, he was brought back to court for violating the terms of his probation four times. He was paroled from prison in December 2011 and was re-arrested four months later.
Michael J. Crandle, 24, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Thomas L. Clark to 14 years in prison for the prosecution's amended charge of second-degree robbery and status as a second-degree persistent felon and 12 months in jail for fleeing or evading police. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Xavier Harris, 23, was sentenced by Clark to seven years in prison for first-degree complicity to robbery.
Zachary Durand Adams, 47, was sentenced by Circuit Judge James D. Ishmael Jr. to one year in prison each for seven counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and one year for two counts of identity theft to run in part consecutively and in part concurrently for a total of seven years, probated for five years. He was ordered to pay $16,500 in restitution jointly and severally with co-defendants.
Arthur Lee Jelks, 48, was sentenced by Ishmael to five years in prison for second-degree assault, 12 months in jail for fourth-degree assault.
Michael Paul Graves, 30, was sentenced by Ishmael to five years in prison for the prosecution's amended charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The sentence was probated three years.
Christopher Lewis Hurt, 27, was sentenced by Ishmael to five years in prison for receiving stolen property under $10,000 and a status as a second-degree persistent felony offender to run consecutively with another case.
Meet Lexington's felony prosecutors
Lou Anna Red Corn serves as First Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney. She was born in Tulsa, Okla., and is a member of the Osage Indian Tribe. She attended the University of Kentucky and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism, as well as a law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Red Corn joined the Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney's Office in 1987 and has become an expert in the investigation and prosecution of the sexual abuse of children.
Kimberly Henderson Baird is from Lexington. She graduated from Lafayette High School and the University of Kentucky, where she earned a degree in business administration and Management. Henderson Baird earned her law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law. She has been a prosecutor since 1996 and has developed a program that takes the prosecutor's office to Lexington's neighborhoods.
Lexington murder trial schedule
Here is the list of murder cases scheduled to be tried during the first six months of 2013:
Jan. 7-17: Commonwealth vs. Patrick Deon Ragland
Ragland is charged with killing Kerry Mitchell on Dec. 22, 2010. In addition to murder, he faces charges of tampering with physical evidence and being a persistent felon.
Jan. 22-Feb. 4: Commonwealth vs. Marty Lee Roe
Roe is charged with killing Martha Post on Sept. 1, 2011. In addition to murder, he is charged with tampering with evidence and harassing communications.
Jan. 28-31: Commonwealth vs. Sidney Williams Jr.
Williams is charged with killing Victor Lamont Martin on Aug. 14, 2010. He also faces charges of tampering, abuse of a corpse and being a persistent felon.
Jan. 28-31: Commonwealth vs. John Davis Cherry
Cherry is charged with killing Amine Lemghaili on March 20, 2011. He also faces charges of first-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree unlawful imprisonment, receiving stolen property (firearm), carrying a concealed deadly weapon, trafficking a controlled substance, trafficking marijuana and having a prescription that was not in its original container.
March 4-14: Commonwealth vs. Darnell Eugene Farrier
Farrier is charged with killing Jerry Waugh on Sept. 19, 2010. He is also charged with two counts of first-degree robbery, first-degree assault, possession of marijuana and being a persistent felon.
April 8-17: Commonwealth vs. Gerardo Turcios-Rodriguez
Turcios-Rodriguez is charged with killing Douglas Saylor on June 2, 2012. He also is charged with tampering with evidence.
April 22-24: Commonwealth vs. Clark Douglas Young
Young is charged in the death of Vincent Miles on Oct. 11, 2011. He also faces charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun and being a persistent felon.
June 10-July 3: Commonwealth vs. William Lee Blancet
Blancet is charged with killing Donald Leroy Adams Sr., Donald "Rocky" Adams and Ronnie Lee Sparks on Jan. 4, 2011. He is also charged with first-degree robbery, tampering with evidence, first-degree possession of a controlled substance and first-degree wanton endangerment.
NOTE: The Kentucky Supreme Court Rules of Professional Responsibility require the following statement: The charges against the above defendants are accusations and they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Fayette County killers on Kentucky's Death Row
Thomas Clyde Bowling, 59, was sentenced to death Jan. 4, 1991, in Fayette County for the shooting deaths of Eddie and Tina Early. The couple was shot on the morning of April 9, 1990, while sitting in their car before opening their family-owned dry cleaning business; their 2-year-old child was wounded. Bowling was arrested April 11, 1990. He was convicted on Dec. 28, 1990 on two counts of murder.
Virginia Caudill, 52, was sentenced to death March 24, 2000, for murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, second-degree arson and tampering with evidence. On March 15, 1998, Caudill and Johnathan Wayne Goforth entered the home of a 73-year-old female, beat her to death and then burglarized her home. They then placed her body in the trunk of her own vehicle and drove her to a rural area in Fayette County and set the car on fire.
Jonathan Wayne Goforth, 52, was sentenced to death March 24, 2000, in Fayette County for murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, second-degree arson and tampering with evidence.