Lexington detective: Suspect killed BCTCS student for alleged money, drugs

Derek Pelphrey
Derek Pelphrey

A Lexington police detective testified Monday that Derek Pelphrey was followed and fatally shot because he was thought to have drugs and a large amount of money in his possession.

Detective Timothy Upchurch testified that Pelphrey was followed from Bluegrass Community and Technical College, where he attended classes, to Ridgepoint Run Road near Spangler Drive, where Trustin Jones allegedly shot and killed him on Sept. 3.

Jones, 20, who is charged with murder and tampering with evidence, admitted to the shooting when questioned by police, Upchurch said.

A co-defendant, Robert Guernsey, 32, had told Jones that Pelphrey had a large amount of money, Upchurch testified. Guernsey told Jones that he had lent the money to Pelphrey and that Guernsey wanted Jones to collect it. Guernsey, who is charged with complicity to murder, was not at the shooting scene, Upchurch said.

Jones shot Pelphrey from the passenger seat of a vehicle that had pulled alongside Pelphrey's vehicle, Upchurch said. Only one shot was fired, Upchurch said.

Upchurch also said there was a witness to the shooting, but he didn't identify that person during the hearing. The unidentified witness wouldn't provide information that was favorable to Jones, Upchurch said in response to a question from Fayette District Judge Joseph Bouvier.

Police found a single shell casing at the shooting scene, but Upchurch said the murder weapon, thought to be a .22-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol, has not been found.

Police said it was discarded in a tributary of the Kentucky River near the Fayette-Clark County line. Police searched the area last week.

Disposal of the weapon led to charges against a third person allegedly involved in the Pelphrey shooting.

Johnie Carlisle "Trey" White III, 20, of Lexington is charged with tampering with evidence for allegedly helping Jones dispose of the gun.

White also faces several charges stemming from other cases, including assault, carrying a concealed deadly weapon, drug trafficking and drug possession.

Bouvier found probable cause Monday to send Jones' case to a grand jury for possible indictment.

Guernsey's case also was waived to the grand jury on Monday.

In another preliminary hearing Monday involving Jones, Lexington police detective Reid Bowles testified that Austin Pennie and Jones are charged in an Aug. 23 robbery in the 300 block of Zandale drive. Marijuana and $900 were taken in that robbery. Pennie's case also was waived to the grand jury.

The person who allegedly drove Pennie and Jones to the robbery scene has not been charged but the investigation is open, Bowles said.

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