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‘A sad day for ... justice system.’ Kentucky detective sentenced for lying in gruesome case

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A former Kentucky State Police detective who admitted lying in court was sentenced Thursday to two years probation with eight months of that time on home incarceration.

Charles J. Senters had entered a guilty plea in October to one federal count of making a false statement while under oath.

U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell handed down the sentence as recommended by federal prosecutors.

“It is a sad day for everyone in our justice system when we see someone like you come into the courtroom,” Caldwell told Senters.

Senters, a Trooper of the Year in 2012, made no statement in open court.

He had just become a detective when he investigated the murder of Eli Marcum in December 2012.

Jimmy D. Benge, a Clay County drug dealer, allegedly got another man to kill Marcum, according to court records.

Another man involved in the case, Vernon Remus “Red” Delph, testified he saw Gerald Lee “Jerry” Sizemore grab Marcum around the neck and stab him so deeply that it “effectively skewered” him, prosecutors said in one court document.

Sizemore and Delph put Marcum’s body on an all-terrain vehicle, dumped it near an ATV trail and used gasoline to set it on fire, Delph said.

Senters sent some pieces of evidence to the state police crime laboratory to be tested for DNA evidence but did not include a piece of telephone cord found a yard from Marcum’s body or a small silver knife found about a quarter of a mile away.

Senters said he did not think the two items had any value as evidence. He threw them in the trash in October 2013.

Defense attorneys for Benge and Sizemore later asked to have the charges against them dismissed, arguing that police should have had the knife and cord tested to see if there was evidence on them that could have helped prove someone else killed Marcum.

During a hearing in that request in July 2014, Senters testified he had checked with Clay County Coroner Danny Finley and a state police analyst on whether it would be all right to throw away the items, and that a KSP supervisor witnessed him disposing of them.

A grand jury charged that Senters did not check with Finley or the analyst before getting rid of the knife and cord, and that his supervisor did not see him do it.

Judge Caldwell also imposed electronic monitoring for Senters during his home incarceration. Senters will have to bear the cost of that monitoring.

Defense attorney Robert Michael Murphy said he would reserve the right to petition for relief of the electronic monitoring.

“I’ll wish you good luck with that,” Caldwell told Murphy.

Senters must also pay a $2,500 fine and a $100 special assessment.

Greg Kocher has been at the Lexington Herald-Leader since 1997. He covers state and federal courts, and some breaking news. From 1997 to 2016, he was a regional reporter who covered counties adjacent to Fayette County.