Barren County

New Barren County Sheriff to Be Named Monday

Aug 3, 2013

There's going to be a new sheriff in town Monday in Barren County.

Judge-Executive Davie Greer told the Glasgow Daily Times that's when she plans to announce her appointment for the position.

Former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton resigned Wednesday, and was sentenced the next day to 18 months in prison for persuading two deputies to write false incident reports in an FBI investigation of an alleged beating during an arrest.

The 42-year-old Eaton, of Glasgow, was acquitted during his trial in May of using excessive force but convicted of witness tampering.

Greer told the newspaper that she had narrowed her selection "to four or five" people.

Former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton will spend a year and a half in prison related to his trial on civil rights violations. Eaton was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Bowling Green. 

In a courtroom packed with family and friends, Eaton wept as he talked about all the things he could no longer do as a convicted felon, such as coach Little League and volunteer in schools. He told U.S. District Court Judge Joseph McKinley that he felt like a “child predator."

“My life is over as I know it,” sobbed Eaton.

Judge McKinley replied that by all accounts, Eaton was a model citizen, but his punishment must reflect the seriousness of the convictions and the former sheriff's position of authority. 

“The buck stops with you”, said McKinley. “You were in charge that day.”

Judge McKinley strayed from the prosecution's recommendation of at least seven years and ordered Eaton to serve 18 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.

Steve Nunn Apologizes to Ex-Fiance's Family

Jul 25, 2013

Facing a team of attorneys, imprisoned former Barren County lawmaker Steve Nunn apologized to the family of the ex-fiancee he was convicted of killing but declined to say he shot her, complained of health problems and refused to answer questions about her death, according to the transcript of his deposition.

Nunn, the son of former Kentucky Gov. Louie B. Nunn, also repeatedly said in the brief July 11 deposition that his heart was racing and he didn't feel comfortable talking about the September 2009 death of Amanda Ross until he consults with a lawyer.

"My mind is sputtering, I guess, at best," Nunn said during the questioning at Green River Correctional Center in Central City. Nunn was sent to prison for life without parole after he pleaded guilty in June 2011 to first-degree murder with an aggravating circumstance in the shooting of his ex-fiancee.

On Tuesday, Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael ordered Nunn to "fully and completely" answer queries from attorneys in a lawsuit over Ross' death.

Governor Steve Beshear joined Glasgow and Barren County leaders Wednesday for a ceremony honoring a new facility that will offer long-term care for those with mental illnesses.

Residents will begin moving into the new Glasgow State Nursing Facility in early September. Glasgow mayor Rhonda Trautman says residents at the facility require a higher level of care than those at most long-term care facilities in the state.

"These are people who are primarily suffering from mental problems who need counseling. They have a variety of issues, and there is a large group of patients there who suffer from Huntington's Disease."

The new facility in Glasgow replaces another state-run long-term care facility in Barren County that had become antiquated.

"The older center has been part of our community for decades. The original building used to be the state tuberculosis hospital," said Mayor Trautman.

The new nursing center will employ 167 people.

A former Barren County lawmaker has been ordered to answer questions about the shooting death of a woman that landed him in prison for life.

Fayette County Circuit Judge James Ishmael on Tuesday ruled that 60-year-old Steve Nunn cannot avoid questions about the day 29-year-old Amanda Ross died outside her Lexington home.

Nunn has been found liable in civil court for the death of Amanda Ross. Nunn pleaded guilty to shooting and killing Ross four years ago. Nunn is serving life in prison.

He faces a civil trial in August in which the Ross family is seeking damages from him. The owner of the townhouses where Ross lived, Opera House Square, is also a defendant in the case.

Nunn refused to answer questions on July 11 during a deposition.

Ahead of his August 1st sentencing, Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton will resign from office at the end of the month. WKU Public Radio learned of the resignation in a sentencing memorandum filed in federal court. 

In May, Eaton was convicted on two felony counts of witness tampering relating to the alleged beating of a suspect and a cover-up that followed.  

U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley last week denied a motion to overturn the verdicts or grant the sheriff a new trial.  Prosecutors are asking for a prison sentence of seven to nine years, while the defense is hoping for ten to 16 months. 

With his resignation, Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer says she will have to appoint a new sheriff to serve out the remainder of Chris Eaton’s term, which ends next December.

Kevin Willis

Two women from Barren County who played significant roles in the fields of flight and education are being honored this weekend. The Kentucky Historical Society will dedicate markers in honor of Nettie Depp and Willa Brown Chappell.

"Chappell was the first African-American woman to earn her pilot's license in the U.S., and that was in 1937," said Becky Riddle, with the Kentucky Historical Society. "She also was the first African-American officer in the Civil Air Patrol, and the first American woman to hold both a mechanic's license and commercial pilot's license."

Chappell was co-founder of the National Airmen's Association of American, which worked to get African-Americans into the U.S. Air Force. In 1940, she co-founded the Coffey School of Aeronautics, which trained black pilots. Some of those pilots went on to be Tuskegee Airmen.

Nettie Depp in 1913 became the first female public official in Barren County, and served as superintendent of county schools from 1914 to 1917. Depp helped lead efforts to unify local schools and create Barren County's first four-year high school, housed in the former Liberty College.

The Aug. 1 sentencing of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton remains on schedule after a federal judge rejected a motion for acquittal or a new trial. 

In May, Eaton was convicted on two counts of witness tampering during a trial in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.  The sheriff and two other law enforcement officers were accused of beating a suspect in handcuffs and trying to cover-up the incident to federal investigators. 

The witness tampering convictions stem from Sheriff Eaton asking two deputies to lie in reports to the FBI about what they saw at the scene of Billy Stinnett’s arrest.  U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley this week issued a ruling upholding the jury’s verdicts. 

“Ultimately, based on evidence presented at trial, a reasonable juror could believe that while there was not sufficient evidence to convict Eaton on the unreasonable use of force charges, there was sufficient evidence to believe that Eaton engaged in witness tampering," McKinley wrote in his order.

When he is sentenced next month, Eaton faces up to 20 years in prison, though under federal sentencing guidelines, he is likely to receive a much lighter sentence.

The founder of a now-bankrupt Barren County oil and gas drilling firm will surrender all interest in the company as part of a settlement with a bankruptcy trustee that ends years of litigation with the trustee for the company.

Under the terms of the agreement, the trustee for Mammoth Resource Partners is dropping a $770,000 claim against former company chief executive officer Roger Louis Cory of Cave City. In exchange, Cory is relinquishing any ownership claim and financial interest he had in Mammoth and its various partnerships and projects.

The settlement, approved Wednesday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Joan Lloyd, ends any involvement Cory founded in 2004. It also brings to an end the bankruptcy trustee's drive to collect at least $770,000 thousand Cory transferred from the company in the five years before it went bankrupt in 2010 with $ 1 million to $10 million in assets and between $500,000, $1 million in liabilities at the time of the filing and each of the plaintiffs as a creditor with the amount owed as "unknown."

The settlement includes dismissing a lawsuit filed in 2012 against Cory seeking the money.

The case against Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other officers is expected to go to the jury Thursday. Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren-Edmonson County Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey are accused of beating a suspect and engaging in a cover-up. 

Testimony ended in the week-and-a-half long trial with none of the officers testifying in their own defense. 

In closing statements to the jury, Federal Prosecutor Roy Conn said three men sworn to uphold the law broke the law. He recanted eyewitness statements that suspect Billy Stinnett was on the ground in handcuffs, but the alleged assault continued. 

The prosecution relied heavily on former deputy Adam Minor, who pleaded guilty to one charge and agreed to testify against the other officers.