Fayette County

Lexington man agrees to lesser charge of manslaughter

A Lexington man charged with a 2005 murder agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge on Friday.

Marlowe Valentine, who was the subject of numerous news stories in recent years for everything from a manhunt to alleged extortion by jail guards, agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter, Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson said.

Valentine was accused in the fatal stabbing of Hector Huerta Morales in 2005 on East Fifth Street.

For years, Valentine denied responsibility. He said he was in the apartment and that a fight began between two other men over a girl. During the fight, Valentine said he suffered a seizure and passed out. When he woke, the victim was lying in a pool of blood. He also questioned whether the girl who accused him of the crime even saw the fight.

In January 2007, Valentine was let out of jail after a circuit judge's typo reduced his bond from $200,000 to $10,000. After searching for a few days, U.S. Marshals woke Valentine from a slumber in a bare apartment he had just rented on Maryland Avenue.

Then in October, Valentine alleged that guards at the Fayette jail were shaking him down for money. Years before, Valentine was part of a large settlement against a drug company. Much of his money was spent on attorney's fees in recent years, he said.

After the extortion allegations, Valentine was transferred to the Louisville jail. He was released for a medical appointment, but he fled the state with his girlfriend. They were found weeks later at a motel in Kenosha, Wis. The plan was to go to Canada, he said.

The plea deal is contingent on Valentine also pleading guilty to the escape charge in Louisville, Larson said. Valentine would receive a five-year sentence for that conviction to be served consecutively with the manslaughter sentence of 10 years.

In an interview Friday, Larson said he normally tries to take murder cases to trial but said Valentine "brought some mental issues to the table" that could have made getting a murder conviction more difficult.

The first-degree manslaughter conviction was appropriate because it can be used when people cause death under extreme emotional disturbance, he said.