State News in Brief

Man sues to get license to marry Ky. prison inmate

LEXINGTON (AP) — To get a Kentucky marriage license, Bradley Jones just has to bring his fiancee to the clerk’s office, but there’s a problem: She’s in prison and can’t make the trip.

Shelby County Clerk Sue Carole Perry says state law requires both applicants to apply in person, and won’t issue the license. So the Louisville man on Thursday sued Perry in federal court, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

According to the lawsuit, Perry on July 14 denied Jones a license to marry Kathryn Brooke Sauer, who is serving sentences for robbery and other charges at a Kentucky prison. Sauer isn’t scheduled to be released until 2026.

Perry says she believes the law prevents her from issuing a license unless both people come to her office, and she can’t issue it to just one person.

“I don’t see that the law says that I can do that,” she said.

Since Sauer can’t visit in person, the lawsuit states that the in-person marriage application law infringes on Jones’ constitutional right to marry. It seeks to bar Perry from enforcing the law.

Janet Conover, a warden at the prison where Sauer is serving time, said she told Jones she had no objection to the marriage. However, she also told him both parties must be at the clerk’s office to apply for a license, and that the prison doesn’t transport inmates for that purpose.

The lawsuit said Jones did not want to wait to marry Sauer because he is deeply religious. Jones’ statement said Sauer is as well.


Daughter angered to learn her mom’s killer lived on the lam

LONDON (AP) — A woman whose mother was killed decades ago says she was angry to learn that the Georgia man convicted of the crime went into hiding in Kentucky for nearly 40 years and is still alive.

Billy Burchfield was arrested last month in London, Kentucky, where he had lived since escaping a Georgia prison in 1979. He had been serving a sentence for voluntary manslaughter in the death of Vera Sue Burchfield.

The victim’s daughter, Janice Smith, told WTVC-TV in Chattanooga that before the shooting in the early 1970s, her mother planned to make Burchfield leave the home. The couple had been fighting.

“My momma had enough of him and she packed his bags, was going to make him leave, and that’s when all it started,” Smith recalled.

She said Burchfield shot her mother in their house.

Smith was outraged to find he was still alive, and had been living in hiding in a small Appalachian town.

“I let it go when I thought he was dead, but then when I found out he was alive — oh, I got mad,” Smith said.

Police caught up with Burchfield in mid-June. The 67-year-old had been living under an assumed name, Harold Arnold, which he took from a cousin who had died. Burchfield was serving a 16-year sentence for manslaughter when he escaped 37 years ago.

A tip from law enforcement in Jackson County, Georgia, led Kentucky police to the suspect.

Police said Burchfield kept a low profile and had no criminal record in Kentucky.

Burchfield is being extradited back to Georgia.


State judge temporarily blocks order creating new UofL board

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A state judge has temporarily blocked Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s order abolishing and replacing the University of Louisville board of trustees.

Bevin last month issued an executive order that abolished the university’s board of trustees. A few weeks later, he appointed a new board and said he expected President James Ramsey to resign.

But Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued, saying Bevin’s order was illegal. Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd agreed with Beshear, temporarily blocking Bevin’s order Friday until the lawsuit can be resolved. Shepherd scolded Bevin for issuing this order without consulting the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which handles the university’s accreditation.

The actions of the governor and his appointees “could cause substantial disruption that would be difficult or impossible” to undo, Shepherd wrote.

However, the new board has already taken some significant actions. On Wednesday, it agreed to accept Ramsey’s resignation and to pay him $690,000 with an agreement he would not sue the university. Shepherd’s order specifically strips the board of its “authority to act as the duly constituted Board of Trustees.” In a footnote of his ruling, Shepherd said he was aware of the board’s action and “perceives no conflict.”

“There was no injunctive order from this Court restricting the newly appointed board from taking such action, and the court perceives no conflict between the newly appointed board’s action and the Court’s ruling today,” Shepherd wrote.

Bevin could appeal the judge’s decision. A spokeswoman for Bevin did not immediately return a request for comment.

Beshear called the ruling “a win for Kentucky students, their families and our public universities.”

“The governor does not have ‘absolute authority’ to ignore the Constitution and Kentucky law,” Beshear said, citing Bevin’s comments last month that he had “absolute authority” to abolish any board or commission in Kentucky.

Cindy Hess, a spokeswoman for the university, said the school was not a party to the lawsuit and declined to comment. She said the university’s attorneys would review the judge’s ruling and referred inquiries about the legality of the board’s decision to the attorney general.

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