A federal judge has set a January trial date for four current and one former Fayette County jail employee accused of beating inmates and then writing bogus reports to cover up the abuse.
U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell set a Jan. 26 trial date during a hearing Wednesday in federal court in Lexington. The trial could take as long as three weeks.
Caldwell agreed to delay the trial after hearing arguments from defense lawyers who said an August trial date was unrealistic.
John McQueen, Clarence McCoy, Scott Tyree, Anthony Estep and Kristine Lafoe were indicted by a federal grand jury in June on several federal charges, including assaulting inmates, falsifying documents and intimidating witnesses.
Tyree left the jail to take a position in another city department before being indicted. All five have been placed on paid leave pending an investigation.
David Franklin, an attorney for McCoy and McQueen, told Caldwell that defense lawyers need additional time to go through the evidence compiled by the FBI, which Franklin called “voluminous.” Other defense lawyers agreed. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Arehart said the federal government had no problem moving the trial.
The indictment alleges that the five worked third shift in the intake unit, where inmates are initially processed, and engaged in a pattern of abusive behavior toward inmates — breaking toes and slamming the head of one person on a counter. All five have pleaded not guilty.
Attorneys for two of the men said after Wednesday's hearing that a deal between their clients and prosecutors is not likely. “My clients have maintained their innocence,” Franklin said. “We fully expect this to go to trial.”
The investigation into wrongdoing at the jail is ongoing, federal authorities have said.