UPDATE: After taking the charges and her history into account, Judge Edward B. Atkins ruled that Crystal Brotherton can be released and held on home detention while she awaits trial. As conditions of her release, Brotherton will have her access to electronics restricted, will not be permitted to possess a gun and must get mental health care, according to court records.
The attorney for a woman accused of calling 911 three times and threatening to blow up four Lexington businesses argued in federal court that she needed help that she could not get in jail.
Crystal R. Brotherton, 31, is charged with three counts of making threats of using explosives to destroy buildings, according to court records.
Brotherton’s attorney, Jay Oakley, told federal judge Edward B. Atkins Wednesday that Brotherton would benefit more from being held at home with restrictions. Specifically, Oakley said allowing mental evaluation and treatment would help Brotherton.
Federal prosecutor William Moynahan argued that it would be too hard to put enough restrictions in place to prevent Brotherton from making future threatening calls to 911. The kinds of threats that were made cause risk to first responders and to business patrons who are forced to evacuate.
On June 20, a caller told a 911 operator a bomb would detonate and kill people at businesses near the intersection of East New Circle and Bryan Station roads, according to court records. The call was played in court Wednesday.
During the call, the person told the operator that bombs would detonate in fifteen minutes if the White Castle, Dunkin’, Kroger and Dan’s Discount Jewelry & Pawn stores were not evacuated.
“Everyone will die,” the caller said in the recorded call. The operator asked the caller her name, but she repeated, “everyone will die.”
After the call, 10 Lexington police officers were sent to the area along with firefighters and a bomb-sniffing dog, Moynahan said Wednesday. Anytime that anytime there is an emergency response of that magnitude, there is risk, he said.
The business evacuations could have caused panic or trampling, and all of the first responders rushing to the scene with lights and sirens could have caused a dangerous situation, Moynahan said.
The next day, a Friday, 911 operators got two calls stating that “yesterday was a test.” The caller said the businesses needed to be evacuated until Monday or she and her “associates” would go to the University of Kentucky and “open fire,” according to court records. In one of the calls, the caller used an electronic device for voice disguise.
Brotherton’s girlfriend testified at Wednesday’s hearing that she would be willing to supervise Brotherton if she was released to house arrest. Atkins said that he had some concern about who could keep an eye on Brotherton during the 40 hours a week that her girlfriend was at work.
Lexington police officer David Chumley testified that when she was first interviewed by investigators, Brotherton denied making the threats. During a later interview, Brotherton said she made the threats, but that she had no knowledge of explosives or guns and had no intention of carrying out the threats.
No explosives were found near the threatened businesses, and at the time, law enforcement did not think it was necessary to get a search warrant for Brotherton’s home. Chumley, who works in a joint task force with the FBI, said during Wednesday’s hearing that perhaps he should have gotten the search warrant just as a precaution.
Oakley mentioned Wednesday that he is defending another client who pleaded guilty in June to similar a charge to Brotherton’s. Haily Lorraine Duvall, 20, was accused of making threats to blow up UK’s White Hall Classroom Building in 2018. She’s set to be sentenced on Oct. 7, according to court records.
After hearing testimony and arguments from Oakley and Moynahan, Atkins said he would review the evidence and statements and decide whether Brotherton will stay in jail or be given alternative options as she awaits trial.