Kentucky elected official hit by car, cattle threatened; ex-opponent pleads guilty

Former Casey County magistrate David “Frog” Wethington, accused of hitting his successor with his car, has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.

Wethington, 71, of Liberty, was charged with first-degree wanton endangerment, a felony, but as part of a plea agreement, the charge was amended down to second-degree wanton endangerment, a misdemeanor.

A second charge of failure to give reasonable precaution to an animal being ridden or driven was merged. He pleaded guilty Thursday.

Under the plea agreement, Wethington accepted a sentence of six months in jail, conditionally discharged for two years on the condition there are no further complaints or violations of law.

Wethington was accused of hitting current Magistrate Bart Woodrum with his car on Nov. 28 while Woodrum and others were moving cattle from one field across Griffith Ridge Road to another field.

He was arrested Nov. 30 by Deputy Sheriff Chad G. Weddle. According to the arrest warrant, Wethington “failed to stop his motor vehicle and drove his motor vehicle through the cattle blowing his horn and laughing.”

Wethington served one term as magistrate from 2010-2014, when Woodrum defeated him in the May primary, 466 votes to Wethington’s 169 votes.

Woodrum ran unopposed in the fall 2014 election and will face re-election in the 2018 mid-term election.

Both men were present in the courtroom Thursday in Casey District Court where Wethington was scheduled for a preliminary hearing. However, both approved the plea agreement, canceling the need for the hearing.

County Attorney Tommy Weddle said Woodrum didn’t want to see Wethington go to jail but did want the conduct to stop. “We want to make sure that the conduct simply does not happen again,” Weddle told Judge Michael Loy.

Wethington’s attorney, Cameron Griffith, told the judge, “These folks are neighbors and don’t need to be having any problems out there.”