State News in Brief


Agency tries to revive region’s economy with telework jobs

HAZARD (AP) — An agency in eastern Kentucky is attempting to revive the area’s economy with telework jobs as the region’s coal industry struggles.

The Lexington Herald Leader reports that Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, a Hazard-based agency, has started the Teleworks USA program in an effort to diversify the area’s struggling economy.

Employees of the program train people in computer and customer service skills and help them polish resumes to prepare for job interviews.

Operations manager for Teleworks USA Betty Hays says trainees also receive certifications covering customer service and sales and learn digital literacy.

Michael Cornett, the head of Teleworks USA, says 213 people found jobs through the program in 2015.

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Police: Kentucky man dies after officers use stun gun on him

BOWLING GREEN (AP) — Kentucky State Police say a man involved in a weekend rollover accident has died after officers used a stun gun on him when he became combative.

State Police Trooper B.J. Eaton said Sunday that 52-year-old Michael Roll of Bowling Green was pronounced dead at the Medical Center at Bowling Green.

His statement says two State Police officers and a local sheriff’s deputy found Roll’s vehicle overturned Saturday night on William Natcher Parkway near bowling Green. Eaton says Roll appeared intoxicated and became combative with officers, who shot him with a stun gun and he became unconscious.

The release says an autopsy was planned Sunday.

Eaton said in a telephone interview later that both Roll and the officers involved were white.

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Man sentenced to 15 years after life sentence overturned

LEXINGTON (AP) — A man whose murder conviction and life sentence had been overturned has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in the 2010 death of his wife.

Fifty-three-year-old Donald Southworth was sentenced Friday on manslaughter charges after entering an Alford plea in Fayette Circuit Court last month, the Lexington Herald Leader reported. An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment that there is enough evidence to convict.

Southworth had been scheduled for a new trial after the state Supreme Court rejected his 2012 murder conviction and life sentence. The court overturned the conviction in 2014 and ruled that prosecutors had failed to prove that Southworth had placed semen from a used condom at the scene of his wife’s slaying and shouldn’t have been able to introduce it as evidence.

Lou Anna Red Corn, Fayette first assistant commonwealth’s attorney, said with the loss of the evidence, the prosecution “determined the best outcome would be to do a plea, permit him to plead guilty to 15 years, and keep him in prison for as long as we possibly could.”

His wife, 44-year-old Umi Southworth, was found severely beaten under a box spring in a brushy area behind her home in June 2010. She was taken to a hospital, where she died the next day.

Southworth will be eligible for parole in about six years because of time already served.

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Eastern Ky. college to offer broadband tech degree

VERSAILLES (AP) — The Big Sandy Community and Technical College in eastern Kentucky will launch the state’s first broadband technology program this fall.

The new associate degree program, the third of its kind in the nation, is designed to train workers as the state moves to expand broadband across Kentucky in an attempt to revive the floundering Appalachian economy.

The Kentucky Community and Technical College’s Board of Regents greenlighted the program Friday. It will prepare students to work in installing and splicing fiber optic cable, maintenance, pole climbing and electrical construction.

The program is an outgrowth of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative to expand broadband to eastern Kentucky coalfields in an attempt to bring high-tech job opportunities to the region’s struggling job market.

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Louisville police see value in testing old rape kits

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Louisville police have reversed course and decided to send an extra 463 rape kits to be tested by Kentucky State Police.

In total, the department is sending 1,386 untested kits after being prompted by state legislators who are mandating a statewide count of untested rape kits.

The 463 additional kits in Louisville were old kits involving dead suspects, deceased or uncooperative victims, or victims who did not want to pursue criminal charges, The Courier-Journal reported (http://cjky.it/24WZHrl).

But Lt. Carolyn Nunn, commander of the Special Victims Unit, recently attended a conference in Memphis where she learned that lab officials in other cities who had old rape kits tested sometimes led to DNA matches in other states.

“Going to Memphis was probably the best thing I could have done because it opened my eyes,” Nunn said. “It doesn’t just stop with our case files.”

The kits contain biological evidence collected from a victim following the report of a sexual assault. Some of the old Louisville kits date back to the 1970s.

“Before I was only sending things that the victims and the prosecutors were on board,” she said. “And now I’m sending everything because it just makes sense to do.”

Legislation passed unanimously early in the year mandating a count of untested kits across the state. Former State Auditor Adam Edelen found 3,090 untested rape kits in Kentucky and cited a lack of written policies and procedures for submitting kits and an underfunded state lab as just a few reasons for the backlog.

The KSP forensic lab plans to send out its first group of 300 to 350 rape kits in early April, starting a process expected to last about a year, said the lab’s director Laura Sudkamp.

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Man charged with manslaughter in deadly apartment fire

WINCHESTER (AP) — A 55-year-old man has been charged in connection to fire at a Winchester apartment building Friday that killed three and injured at least five.

Jackie Hisle Jr. was charged Friday with second-degree manslaughter, according to media reports. Hisle’s 36-year-old son, Donald Hisle, was among the three killed in the massive blaze.

Clark County Detention Center records indicate Hisle was booked by the Winchester Police Department and is being held on a $1 million bond. He is scheduled for a hearing Monday. A spokesman for the Winchester Police Department could not be immediately reached for details on Hisle’s alleged connection to the fire.

Clark County Deputy Coroner Sarah Crews said the other two fire victims were 29-year-old Tina Reynolds and 71-year-old Dixie Everman. Reynolds and Hisle died of smoke inhalation.

The cause of Everman’s death is still undetermined because she had both smoke inhalation and blunt-force trauma, Crews said. Everman had jumped from a second-story window to escape the fire and sustained injuries from the fall.

Crews said there was an oxygen tank in Jackie Hisle’s apartment.

Firefighters said the fire is still under investigation.

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Officer cleared in fatal Ludlow traffic stop shooting

LUDLOW (AP) — Prosecutors have concluded that a northern Kentucky officer acted in self-defense when he fatally shot a 61-year-old man last year during a traffic stop.

News outlets report that body camera footage released Friday helped convince prosecutors that Ludlow police officer Samuel Hodge was justified in shooting Charles Reynolds on Dec. 22.

In the video, Reynolds appears to refuse to remove his hand from his waistband while standing outside of his vehicle.

The footage then shows Reynolds pulling a gun and the two exchanging gunfire. Reynolds was killed and the officer was shot in the arm.

In a memo to the Kentucky State Police, Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders found no wrongdoing in Hodge’s actions.

Ludlow Police Chief Scott Smith says Hodge handled the situation exactly as he was trained to do.

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West Kentucky Community president retiring

PADUCAH (AP) — West Kentucky Community and Technical College President Barbara Veazey is retiring after becoming the school’s founding president in 2003.

Veazey will leave her post in June. She told staff and faculty she was “inspired each day by the brightest, most forward thinking group of individuals.”

West Kentucky CTC enrolls more than 9,000 students in western Kentucky and online.

Veazey was appointed president of Paducah Community College in 2002, and when the school consolidated with West Kentucky Technical College in 2003, Veazey was named its first president.

Kentucky Community and Technical College System President Jay Box will visit the campus later in the month to explain the search process for the next president.

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