A federal judge has agreed to postpone until June 8 the bribery trial of former state Rep. W. Keith Hall, D-Phelps.
Hall's attorneys requested a delay in the trial, previously set to begin April 20 in Pikeville. They said they needed more time to prepare for two surprise prosecution witnesses: Hall's estranged wife, Stephanie, and his co-defendant, retired coal mine inspector Kelly Shortridge, who pleaded guilty in March to one felony count of soliciting a bribe.
In particular, Shortridge's anticipated testimony "causes the defense to reassess its trial strategy in the case," wrote Brent Caldwell, one of Hall's attorneys, in a motion seeking the delay.
Additionally, prosecutors only recently turned over thousands of pages of evidence against Hall, including banking records, mining permits and violations, all of which the defense team must study, Caldwell wrote.
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U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell granted Hall's request last week.
"The court finds the ends of justice served by granting a continuance because failure to grant such a continuance would deny Hall reasonable time necessary for effective trial preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence," Caldwell wrote in her decision.
Shortridge worked at the Pikeville office of the Kentucky Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement.
In his plea agreement with prosecutors, Shortridge said Hall secretly paid him about $46,000 in 2009 and 2010 so he would not cite Hall's Pike County surface mines for repeated violations. Most of the money was disguised as payments made by some of Hall's companies to a shell business, DKJ Consulting, established under the name of Shortridge's wife, Shortridge said.
Hall was defeated in last year's Democratic primary for his House seat after 14 years in the legislature.