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March 26, 2014

Turner & Denning plead guilty in murder for hire case

Prater trial continued until June

WHITLEY CITY —  Three Pulaski County men accused of participating in a local murder for hire plot in February of last year avoided trial this week.

    During a motion hearing on Monday, the trial of Timothy Prater, 31, of Somerset was continued until June 18 due to motions including a change of attorney.

    Yesterday before Circuit Judge Dan Ballou, 20-year-old Joseph R. Denning and 22-year-old Antonio A. Turner pled guilty to amended charges. The charge of Conpiracy to Commit Murder was dismissed against the brothers, while Criminal Conspiracy to Commit First-Degree Robbery was amended down to Criminal Facilitation, carrying a five-year sentence.

    Denning and Turner, who are expected to testify at Prater’s trial, also pled guilty to Unlawful Imprisonment with prosecutors recommending a three-year sentence. The counts are to be served consecutively for a total of eight years. Restitution is to be determined at formal sentencing, to be held on May 27 at 11 a.m.

    The plea negotiations were delayed by more than an hour due to a transport issue resulting in the defendants not arriving at court until just after 10 a.m. An irritated Judge Ballou called for Deputy Judge-Executive Andrew Powell to address the issue with Wayne County Detention Center, which holds the contract for lodging McCreary inmates and is responsible for most court-related transports.

      All three defendants were indicted last March in connection to the February 7, 2013, attack on Deborah Taylor of Pine Knot. Taylor had been accosted as she left home, but neighbors intervened. A description of the suspects’ getaway car led authorities to Prater, who allegedly been paid by a co-worker to kill Taylor. Prater enlisted Denning and Turner into the scheme. His co-worker, Regina Stephens of Pine Knot, is suspected to have committed suicide before she could be charged.

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Hatfield Lane 22 marijuana plants

The McCreary County Sheriff’s Office seized a total of 22 marijuana plants Saturday evening from a residence on Hatfield Lane in Whitley City. That case will be presented to the grand jury, but three individuals encountered during the investigation were arrested on unrelated charges.

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