Franklin County Sheriff hopes arrest of murder suspect brings closure
A six-hour standoff at a Lexington motel between Lexington Police and a man accused of murdering a Frankfort woman ended peacefully Friday morning.
Derek Garten threw his weapons out of his Bryan Station Inn motel room around 10:30 a.m., putting an end to the standoff that led to a nearly-five hour closure of New Circle Road between Bryan Station Road and Limestone Road.
Police received a tip that Garten was at the motel around 3 a.m. and were soon able to confirm it was him, according to Lexington Police Lt. Andrew Daugherty. New Circle Road was shut down around 6 a.m.
Around 7 a.m., police made contract with Garten and negotiated with him until he came out uninjured at 10:30, according to Daughetry.
Customers in other rooms of the motel were evacuated, police said. The Lexington Police Emergency Response Unit and Crisis Negotiation Unit worked throughout the morning to resolve the incident. The Franklin County Sheriff's Department also had detectives on the scene.
Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton, who has been on the case since Margaret Elizabeth Smith was found dead in her Frankfort residence Tuesday, said he was pleased with the way the standoff ended.
“We had all the time in the world, his time was short," said Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton. "It caught up to him today, which was fantastic.
"The teamwork here has been great," Melton added. "It’s been a long three days. Detectives, everybody, the whole team has done a great job. We are so happy that we got him alive, that he walked out and did the right thing. Everything he has posted over the last three days has been very opposite of that."
While in the motel room Friday morning around 8 a.m., Garten said in a Facebook post that "this is the end of road for me today," then appeared to admit to killing Smith, who had an emergency protective order against Garten.
"I was set up from the beginning," he said in his post. "I shot Meg and would do it again."
Garten will be lodged in the Shelby County Regional Jail on murder, tampering with physical evidence and terroristic threatening charges, authorities said after his arrest. He is uninjured.
Smith was found dead inside her Frankfort home Tuesday morning. Garten was immediately called a person of interest and that night his alleged accomplice, Billy Turner, was arrested on complicity to murder and tampering with physical evidence charges.
Turner is alleged to have driven Garten to and from Smith's home Tuesday night, according to WKYT. Turner told authorities that Garten walked out of his vehicle, entered Smith's home and left a few minutes later when exclaiming, "Go, go. She is dead."
Garten threw a rifle toward a body of water as Turner drove him away from the scene, WKYT reported.
Melton hopes Garten's arrest brings closure to Smith's family.
"I think for those family members that were in fear...he is in custody and they are safe. That brings a sense of relief for them," he said.