State News in Brief


Deputies: Dogs die after man feeds them meth

LONDON (AP) — Authorities have arrested a 40-year-old Laurel County man they say fed methamphetamine to two dogs that later died.

Local news outlet report that officials arrested Benjamin Burdette Tuesday afternoon on charges including animal cruelty and wanton endangerment.

According to an arrest citation, Laurel County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to Burdette’s home and discovered that Burdette had been using meth in the presence of a 2-year old girl.

They also found two dogs in the home. One of them appeared to be in distress. Both dogs were taken to an animal hospital and tested positive for the drug. One dog died and the other was euthanized.

Burdette’s bond has been set at $10,000. Jail records don’t indicate whether he has an attorney.

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Results could come soon for Ky.’s rape kit backlog

FRANKFORT (AP) — The director of Kentucky’s forensic crime lab says the state is working through its backlog of untested rape kits and should get the first batch of results next month.

An audit last year revealed Kentucky had more than 3,000 untested rape kits, a collection of physical evidence from a victim after a sexual assault. Police check that evidence against a national database of DNA profiles to look for suspects.

Kentucky State Police forensic lab director Laura Sudkamp said her team has been working through about 300 rape kits per month since May. She said some of the unsolved cases date back to the 1960s.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin appeared with Sudkamp on Wednesday to ceremonially sign legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to have policies on how to handle rape kits.

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UK starts recovery program for addicts

LEXINGTON (AP) — A group of University of Kentucky students is starting a recovery program for students dealing with addictions, and hopes to open a sober residence hall.

News outlets report that UK’s recently formed Collegiate Recovery Community is meant to promote a healthy and supportive college experience for students in recovery for substance abuse disorders and process addictions, as well as help remove the stigma associated with recovery.

Kelsey Hinken, who works with UK Recovery, says CRC hopes to open a substance-free residence hall in the fall of 2017.

So far, the group has about six members, including chemical engineering student Phil Johnson. Johnson is recovering from an alcohol and opioid addiction and says he’s grateful UK offers the program.

There are now more than 100 collegiate recovery programs across the country.

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FBI in Louisville getting new special agent in charge

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The FBI in Louisville will have a new leader this fall.

FBI Director James B. Comey announced this week that Amy Hess will be the new special agent in charge of the Louisville office starting in October. The current head of the office, Howard S. Marshall, is going to FBI Headquarters, where he will be the deputy assistant director of the Cyber Division.

Hess has most recently been executive assistant director of the Science and Technology Branch. She has been with the FBI since 1991 and is originally from Jeffersonville, Indiana.

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Students kick off day of service in Frankfort

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky State University freshmen are kicking off a day of service in Frankfort on Saturday and the school is encouraging area residents join in.

A statement from the school says faculty and staff are encouraged to join students for Pay It Forward Frankfort, which includes service activities around the city. The school says participants will be able to choose from six possible projects that include making improvements to playground equipment at public housing locations, sprucing up Habitat for Humanity homes, working at the women’s shelter and painting on campus.

The school is also encouraging residents to plan and document their own unsolicited acts of kindness from Saturday through Dec. 4 for Pay it Forward Frankfort.

Those who do should post items to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #payitfwdfrankfort2016.

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Police officers say Taco Bell employee refused to serve them

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Five police officers in Kentucky say a Taco Bell employee refused to serve them and that kitchen workers talked about wanting to “mess with them.”

The Louisville Police Department says the incident happened Aug. 18 when the officers came in during their lunch break. Fraternal Order of Police president Dave Mutchler says an employee told the officers he wasn’t taking their order and walked away.

The officers then overheard a conversation between two other employees in the kitchen who said they were going to “mess with them.” At that point, the officers decided to leave.

Taco Bell says it apologized to the Louisville Police Department. The franchise owner says police didn’t want the employees to be fired, and the restaurant sent tacos to police headquarters for lunch Wednesday to make amends.

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Judge declines to stop UofL board from acting on budget

FRANKFORT (AP) — The University of Louisville board of trustees — at least one version of it — will meet Thursday to discuss the school’s budget after a judge denied a last-minute request from an advocacy group.

The governing body of one of the state’s largest public universities has been in legal limbo for months because of lawsuits challenging the board’s racial makeup and the governor’s authority to appoint new members.

In March, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin settled a lawsuit with the Kentucky Justice Resource Center by agreeing the board would not take significant action until Bevin appointed two racial minorities as trustees. But Bevin did not do that. Instead, he abolished the entire board and replaced it with a new board he says satisfies state law by having proportional racial and political representation.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued, saying Bevin’s order was illegal. Last month, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd blocked Bevin’s order, temporarily restoring the old board to power. That board scheduled a meeting for Thursday to discuss the school’s operating budget, which went into effect in July but has still not been approved by the board.

Thursday morning, the Kentucky Justice Resource Center said the old board would violate the terms of the original settlement agreement if it meets to discuss the budget, something the center’s lawyer Kimberly Bunton said was a “significant action.”

But Shepherd, while agreeing there “is a cloud over the legal authority of both groups,” said “somebody has got to have decision making authority for this university while these issues get sorted out.” He indicated Bevin’s order abolishing the old board of trustees could have violated the original settlement agreement because that constituted a “significant structural change.”

Bunton said she was disappointed but added her client has accepted Shepherd’s decision.

“No one was trying to paralyze or hamper the board or the university from doing any operations,” Bunton said. “We just want to make sure that when those operations are done there are racial minorities at the table in proportion to the community.”

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Magoffin judge executive can keep his job, high court rules

FRANKFORT (AP) — Magoffin County’s highest elected official can keep his job despite evidence of voter fraud in the 2014 election, the Kentucky Supreme Court said Thursday.

The court ruled unanimously to overturn two lower court rulings, meaning Democratic incumbent Charles “Doc” Hardin, the county’s judge executive, gets to keep his job. The lower court rulings had thrown out the results and declared the office vacant.

On Election Day, Republican challenger John Montgomery led Hardin by 409 votes. But Hardin received nearly 70 percent of the absentee ballots, making him the winner by a scant 28 votes. Montgomery sued, presenting evidence of vote buying and other fraud. While the court agreed the results were suspicious, they said evidence did not prove the results were fraudulent.

“While corruption in the casting and counting of votes, as was alleged in this case, certainly undermines the integrity of election results, it is not the only threat that we must guard against,” Justice Daniel Venters wrote for the court. “Equally corrosive to the public’s trust in fair elections is the destabilization of election results that would occur if we cast aside election results for trivial reasons or unsubstantiated accusations.”

Earlier this month, a federal jury convicted three Magoffin County residents, including two elected officials, of conspiring to buy votes for a slate of candidates in the 2014 election, including Hardin. Hardin was not charged in that case and has denied any wrongdoing.

“It is very clear there was massive fraud that occurred in this election,” said Gordon B. Long, Montgomery’s attorney. “I feel like the lower courts got it right. They understood what was going on here. I don’t agree with the Supreme Court’s decision, but I have to respect it.”

Venters wrote he and the other justices were aware of the federal court convictions, but said the court could only look at the evidence “in the record before us.”

“We cannot consider evidence that may have been available to federal prosecutors but was not presented in this action. The recent criminal convictions have no bearing upon the issues we address,” Venters wrote.

Venters did condemn vote buying, but noted the evidence in the case only proved one vote was illegally bought for Hardin. Venters ordered Hardin’s vote tally to be reduced by one, but noted “it is not sufficient to set aside the election.”

“I think the Supreme Court ruled on the law and the facts correctly,” said Eldred Adams, Hardin’s attorney. “At 7-0, I don’t think there could have been much doubt about it.”

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