Crime

Attorney speaks for man accused in the death of missing mother Savannah Spurlock

The man accused in the death of missing mother Savannah Spurlock was arraigned Friday in Garrard County Circuit Court, and his attorney later pointed out that an indictment doesn’t mean her client is guilty.

David Sparks, 23, was initially charged with abuse of a corpse and evidence tampering in July after Spurlock’s body was found in a clandestine grave on Sparks’ parents’ Garrard County property. He was indicted for murder in late August.

Spurlock, 23, was found in a shallow grave on a Fall Lick Road property after Sparks’ father called his attorney to say he’d smelled something on his property. Sparks had been questioned early in the case because he was seen on surveillance video leaving The Other Bar in Lexington with Spurlock on the January night that she disappeared.

The months-long search for Spurlock, a Madison County mother of four, drew national attention.

At Friday’s arraignment, a not-guilty plea was entered to all of the charges on Sparks’ behalf. Spurlock’s family and friends were in the courtroom for the appearance, and several of them wore #SavannahStrong shirts.

Sparks’ attorney, Erica Roland, said that Friday’s court appearance was very routine.

“Just because David’s been indicted does not mean that he’s guilty of murder, and it does not mean that the commonwealth is going to be able to convict him,” Roland said Friday. “We are deeply sorry for Ms. Spurlock’s family’s loss and we hope that they’re able to find the answers they’re looking for.”

Over the next 60 days, Sparks’ attorneys will begin to receive evidence from prosecutors and begin to build their case, Roland said.

“I don’t want to speak for the commonwealth or the police department, but I think that because of the attention that this case got, it doesn’t surprise me that someone got indicted with murder,” Roland said. “But as I said before, just because someone’s indicted does not mean that they will be convicted or that they are guilty.”

While it is too early to consider whether Sparks’ trial should be moved outside of Garrard, Roland acknowledged Friday that the attention the case has gotten could be a complication.

“I practice here in Garrard County ... I love the area, but it is a small community, and there has been a lot of press coverage, so I’m not sure what we’re going to end up doing,” Roland said.

Sparks’ family has struggled with the attention surrounding the case, Roland said.

“I think with the press coverage and the attention that they’ve gotten as this case has unfolded, it’s been very difficult,” Roland said. “No parent wants to watch their children go through what David’s going through, and they have not liked having all of the attention on them. They live a little bit out of town on a small piece of property, and this is completely different from how they thought their life was going to go.”

Sparks is expected to be back in court on Nov. 1, but Roland said that due to the volume of evidence, the hearing could be delayed.

Sparks is being held in the Lincoln County jail. Judge Hunter Daugherty said at Friday’s arraignment that since Sparks could not afford an attorney, he would continue to be represented by a public defender.

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Investigators search a garage for the remains of Savannah Spurlock at a home on Fall Lick Road in Garrard County, Ky., Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Spurlock has been missing since early January. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com
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