Bourbon County

Man pleads not guilty to abuse of corpse; court date set

Michael Hutsell
Michael Hutsell Bourbon County Regional Jail

A Paris man has pleaded not guilty to abusing a corpse and tampering with physical evidence and will have a court date later this month.

Michael Hutsell, 45, will have a preliminary hearing in Paris Circuit Court on Jan. 18. He pleaded not guilty Jan. 4.

Kentucky State Police arrested and charged Hutsell with the crimes after a trooper found the body of Tina Johnson, 53, in the crawl space of a duplex on 1204 High Street in Paris.

Johnson’s funeral was Saturday.

According to an arrest citation, Hutsell said in a recorded interview that he had intentionally abused the corpse by wrapping it in plastic. He then said he hid the body underneath the duplex in an attempt to hide evidence, the citation reads.

Johnson was last seen in Dec. 2.

In a previous interview with the Herald-Leader, Kenny Johnson, Johnson’s son, said his mother was a happy, free-spirited woman who had “many, many people who loved and cared for her.”

Kenny Johnson said state police had told the family Hutsell “was one of the last persons she was seen with,” but he did not know any other details. The investigation is ongoing. Johnson’s cause of death has not yet been determined, pending laboratory results.

Hutsell could face additional charges pending the outcome of the investigation, officials said.