Category Archives: Criminal Law

Body in a Barrel? Fayette County’s Strange Case


A sensational murder case has finally been put to rest (at least on the state level) by a decision of the Kentucky Supreme Court.

You may remember the case. The  killer, Robert Markham Taylor stuffed the body of the victim, Alex Johnson in a barrel after killing him and dumped the barrel and the body in the Kentucky river. Apparently it was a drug related killing as Taylor went to Johnson’s home after the killing and hauled away two garbage bags with approximately 26 pounds of marijuana in them

I watched some of the trial and it was definitely interesting. I guess only a criminal defense attorney would call a murder trial interesting. The defense and prosecution did a good job. It was a tragic case.

Read more about the case and the decision by clicking on the link below.

http://UK chef’s murderer fails to convince Supreme Court that he was wrongly convicted

Who is In Charge of a Defendant’s Trial?

The article below deals with a situation that can always put a lawyer representing a client at trial in a predicament. Who calls the shots? You are hired to do a job and there can be a conflict in how you do that job. Do you hire a contractor and tell them how to frame the house? What would the contractor do?

In this case, the Defendant faced the death penalty. The lawyer was trying to spare him death and felt that admitting to the jury that his client committed the client was a sound strategy to save him from the death penalty. The client wanted to maintain a defense that he was innocent. Obviously, the lawyer knew that defense wouldn’t work.

Trial strategy goes a long way in protecting a lawyer from challenges about the job that he/she does at trial. It is a situation you never want to be in, but is inevitable. The family hiring you puts you in any even greater predicament because ethically, just because a third party hires you, you are representing your client and the wishes of the third party matter not.

Would this lawyer’s strategy have worked if the client had testified at trial and acknowledged that he committed the crime? The prosecution assuredly had plenty to cross-examine him with.

Read the article. It is interesting.

Kentucky Supreme Court Rules on the 10 year “Lookback” period

Today, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued its opinion regarding the statutory “Look Back” rule. The practical effect of this opinion is this: prior to the state legislature passing this law, the state of Kentucky punished people more harshly if they were arrested for multiple DUIs within a 5 year period. After the 5 year period, any convictions that were older than 5 years could not be used against you to enhance the penalties for a subsequent offense. Under the new law, the enhancement period is now 10 years so even if it has been over 5 years since your last offense,  any new offense will be enhanced. The defense bar challenged the law primarily using contract law and ex post facto but obviously lost. Read the opinion. 

Capital Punishment: Is it worth it? Easy to say yes unless you are the family of the victim.

Have you ever thought about the family of the victim whose loved one was taken from them in a situation where the death penalty was sought by the state as punishment? Most people don’t get that far in their thinking on the issue.

Can you imagine, for years and years, coming to court and seeing the person who committed the atrocity against your son/daughter/ Mother/ Father or other family member sitting there while the case gets continued and continued and continued….. I know I can’t.

I’ve stated my view on capital punishment in past blogs. In short, I don’t believe in it. And here is why. How do you balance what the delays do to a family with the protection of the Defendant and his/her right to a fair trial? The responsibility of the Court, prosecution and defense is enormous. Particularly if they are to “get it right”.

Don’t be naive. There are innocent people on death row. Innocent people have been put to death. How do you correct that mistake? The answer is plain and simple. You can’t. And if one innocent person is put to death, then the death penalty should be eradicated. Think about it, the cost to the victim’s family could be alleviated. They could have closure by another method of punishment. The financial cost to society would be lessened. And, if there was a mistake, as devasting as that mistake would be to a person whose liberty was taken, it could be corrected. And just as important, what is worse, an instantaneous death or the spectre of spending the rest of your life in prison. Knowing that you won’t leave prison until you are in a pine box. What has a more deterrent effect?

The story below illustrates the frustration that is shared by all three components set forth above.

Quite simply, doing away with the death penalty is the only solution. Aside from the emotional damage it causes to the victim’s family,  from a practical standpoint, if just makes more sense.

Judge Goodwine has presided over her share of death penalty cases. And make no mistake, she is a good judge. This article clearly illustrates her frustration with delays in the process. Delays that are unnecessary.



Another Heroin Tragedy