Crime

Ex-preacher’s attorney seeks to move trial in Danville pawnshop slayings

Kenneth Allen Keith, 51, is accused of murder in the 2013 shooting deaths of three people at a Danville pawn shop.
Kenneth Allen Keith, 51, is accused of murder in the 2013 shooting deaths of three people at a Danville pawn shop. gkocher1@herald-leader.com

Attorneys are seeking to move the trial for Kenneth Allen Keith, the former Pulaski County preacher charged with murder in the 2013 slayings of three people at a pawnshop.

On Tuesday, Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Peckler scheduled a hearing for Aug. 29 on a defense motion for a change of venue because of pretrial publicity.

Defense attorney Sam Cox of Lexington said results of a random-sampling survey of Boyle County residents will be filed soon with the circuit clerk’s office. “We’ve had a survey that reflects it’s appropriate to change” the trial location to someplace outside Boyle County, Cox said.

The change-of-venue motion was filed months ago by a previous lawyer for Keith but has not been heard. The motion said that Keith’s trial should be moved out of Boyle County because the “case is so sensational that it has been reported extensively and continuously by radio, television, newspaper and other media.”

The motion said moving the trial is warranted because it will “be impossible to select a jury capable of rendering a verdict based solely on the evidence.”

During the hearing, the people who conducted the survey will testify “how it was designed, what the results were and their analysis of those results,” Cox said.

Keith, 51, who was pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Burnside, has pleaded not guilty in the shooting deaths of Michael Hockensmith, 35, and his wife, Angela, 38, both of Stanford, and Daniel Smith, 60, of Richmond. The shooting happened in September 2013 in a Danville pawnshop co-owned by the Hockensmiths.

Michael Hockensmith formerly worked for Keith at the store before assuming ownership and changing the business name.

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