Bodies of missing Richmond couple to remain in evidence, judge rules

Sonsaray Warford, left, and Charles DeMarcus "Chew" Walker
Sonsaray Warford, left, and Charles DeMarcus "Chew" Walker

RICHMOND — The families of two alleged kidnapping and murder victims must wait a while longer to bury them, according to a district judge's decision on Tuesday.

At a March 30 preliminary hearing, Madison District Judge Brandy Oliver Brown granted a motion to preserve and review evidence, including the body of Sonsaray Warford, 30, and another body presumed to be her boyfriend, Charles Walker, 30.

But Bridget Saunders, a defense attorney for Matt Denholm, said during a hearing Tuesday in Madison District Court that the schedule of an expert, Delaware Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Richard Callery, has not allowed him to come to Kentucky to examine the remains.

"We think there are things that the bodies can tell us that will tell us who is really responsible," Saunders said after the hearing.

In late March, the bodies of Warford and Walker were exhumed from a field just west of town. The Richmond couple had been missing since late June 2010.

Daniel Keene, 26, confessed to police that he and Denholm, 27, kidnapped Warford and Walker, and took them to the field. Keene said he dug a grave and Denholm tortured Walker, stabbed Walker repeatedly, and shot Warford in the head. Both men have pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping and murder.

Saunders and associate Aaron Currin filed a motion for prosecutors to turn over an autopsy file in the case, so any photographs, preliminary reports or other materials could be sent to Callery.

But Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jennifer Smith said prosecutors have nothing to turn over because they do not have a final autopsy report. Her husband, Commonwealth's Attorney David Smith, said after Tuesday's hearing that it is his policy not to release evidence to the defense until after a grand jury has issued indictments. And the state medical examiner's office does not turn over any autopsy reports until they are final.

A grand jury has not yet considered Keene and Denholm for possible indictment, and their cases won't go to a grand jury until May at the earliest.

"We're not trying to prevent any examination, but I don't think that they (the defense) get to dictate that I turn over something that doesn't exist," David Smith said.

Saunders said the defense has tried to contact other medical examiners to look at the remains, but has been unsuccessful.

Warford's body has been preliminarily identified through a tattoo on her arm. Investigators are still trying to confirm the identity of the other body.

At the end of Tuesday's hearing, Brown let her order stand for the preservation of evidence. Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys could say how much longer families would have to wait.

Gregory Todd, Warford's father, said he is upset with the situation.

"I think it's unfair for the family to sit up here and still have to go through this," Todd said after the hearing. "It's hard enough that we waited almost two years. And now it's been almost three weeks and we're still having to wait."