Category Archives: Federal Criminal Offenses

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

KYAnonymous, Hacker’s Co-Conspirator Sentenced

The co-conspirator to the computer hacker, KYAnonymous, has been sentenced in Federal Court.  See the story, below:

To see the story about KYAnonymous, see:

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If you find yourself faced with a criminal offense in Federal Court, consider contacting my office.  For more information:

To Die or Not to Die? That is the Question

Capital Punishment
Supreme Court Chambers

Capital Punishment and Mental Illness:

Whether you are in favor of the death penalty or against it, the following story could lead to a very disturbing result.

Are we going to put to death those who suffer from mental disease? Are the methods we use to determine the issue of  competence outdated?

We are getting ready to find out. See the article below.

Death penalty, the mentally disabled at issue for justices:

I’ve Been Arrested. What Can I Expect From Here?



Stages of a Criminal Case

Criminal prosecution develops in a series of stages, beginning with an arrest and ending at a point before, during, or after trial. The majority of criminal cases terminate when a criminal defendant accepts a plea bargain offered by the prosecution. In a plea bargain, the defendant chooses to plead guilty before trial to the charged offenses, or to lesser charges in exchange for a more lenient sentence or the dismissal of related charges.


Criminal prosecution typically begins with an arrest by a police officer. A police officer may arrest a person if (1) the officer observes the person committing a crime; (2) the officer has probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed by that person; or (3) the officer makes the arrest under the authority of a valid arrest warrant. After the arrest, the police books the person, who is now considered to be a suspect. When the police complete the booking process, they place the suspect in custody. If the suspect committed a minor offense, the police may issue a citation to the suspect with instructions to appear in court at a later date.


If a suspect in police custody is granted bail, the suspect may pay the bail amount in exchange for a release. Release on bail is contingent on the suspect’s promise to appear at all scheduled court proceedings. Bail may be granted to a suspect immediately after booking or at a later bail review hearing. Alternatively, a suspect may be released on his “own recognizance.” A suspect released on his own recognizance need not post bail, but must promise in writing to appear at all scheduled court appearances. Own recognizance release is granted after the court considers the seriousness of the offense, and the suspect’s criminal record, threat to the community and ties to family and employment.


The suspect makes his first court appearance at the arraignment. During arraignment, the judge reads the charges filed against the defendant in the complaint and the defendant chooses to plead “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest” to those charges. The judge will also review the defendant’s bail and set dates for future proceedings.

Preliminary Hearing or Grand Jury Proceedings

The government generally brings criminal charges in one of two ways: by a “bill of information” secured by a preliminary hearing or by grand jury indictment. In the federal system, cases must be brought by indictment. States, however, are free to use either process. Both preliminary hearings and grand juries are used to establish the existence of probable cause. If there is no finding of probable cause, a defendant will not be forced to stand trial.

A preliminary hearing, or preliminary examination, is an adversarial proceeding in which counsel questions witnesses and both parties make arguments. The judge then makes the ultimate finding of probable cause. The grand jury, on the other hand, hears only from the prosecutor. The grand jury may call its own witnesses and request that further investigations be performed. The grand jury then decides whether sufficient evidence has been presented to indict the defendant.

Pre-Trial Motions

Pre-trial motions are brought by both the prosecution and the defense in order to resolve final issues and establish what evidence and testimony will be admissible at trial.


At trial, the judge or the jury will either find the defendant guilty or not guilty. The prosecution bears the burden of proof in a criminal trial. Thus, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crimes charged. The defendant has a constitutional right to a jury trial in most criminal matters. A jury or judge makes the final determination of guilt or innocence after listening to opening and closing statements, examination and cross-examination of witnesses, and jury instructions. If the jury fails to reach a unanimous verdict, the judge may declare a mistrial, and the case will either be dismissed or a new jury will be chosen. If a judge or jury finds the defendant guilty, the court will sentence the defendant.


During the sentencing phase of a criminal case, the court determines the appropriate punishment for the convicted defendant. In determining a suitable sentence, the court will consider a number of factors, including the nature and severity of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, the defendant’s personal circumstances and the degree of remorse felt by the defendant.


An individual convicted of a crime may ask that his or her case be reviewed by a higher court. If that court finds an error in the case or the sentence imposed, the court may reverse the conviction or find that the case should be re-tried.

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Employee Embezzlement: A Fox Guarding the Henhouse

A Fox Guarding the Henhouse:

A story broke today where a long time bookkeeper employee for a small business was arrested for embezzling over $1,000,000 from the company. The employee was considered “family” by the company. The moral of the story is this.

  • Require two signatures for all checks
  • Require your bookkeeper to take at least one vacation per year and while on vacation have an audit done on your books; and
  • Be proactive if you are the business owner.

My experience in law enforcement, retail loss prevention and as a criminal defense attorney have conclusively shown me that once an employee steals from a company once, it becomes an addiction and the theft can be devastating. Remember, nobody cares about YOUR company as much as YOU do.

Please click on the link below to see the story.

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If you find yourself faced with an employee embezzlement issue, consider contacting my office.

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Jury Polling in Crafting a Sentence Under 3553


Jury Trials:

Today, the USCA for the 6th Circuit in United States v. Collins considered a case wherein the trial judge, at the conclusion of a jury trial, and after the jury returned a verdict of guilty, polled the jury to see what they thought a “just punishment” was for the Defendant. This was a case of first impression for the 6th Circuit. Federal Court criminal practitioners will find this opinion educational. It has been recommended for full publication. The link to the full opinion is found below. It is interesting to note that one of the reasons for his actions was that the trial judge wanted to see what the “community view” was of a “just punishment” and he incorporated that into his 3553 analysis of  the appropriate punishment.

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