News in Brief

Published 5:39 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

Police: Boy killed, mom attacked over $200

McKEE (AP) — Police say a man killed a 5-year-old boy and brutally attacked his mother, pushing her off a 77-foot cliff in eastern Kentucky, over $200.

Media report Kentucky State Police detective Charles Brandenburg testified Monday during a preliminary hearing in Jackson County District Court that 41-year-old Lonnie Belt thought the boy’s stepfather had stolen the money from him. The stepfather, David Durham, has denied the accusation.

Email newsletter signup

Brandenburg testified that Belt told police he had planned to hold the two hostage until the money was repaid. The detective said he didn’t know why Belt instead severely injured 29-year-old Jessica Durham on Sept. 8, but the suspect indicated that he killed James Spoonamore because he witnessed the attack.

A judge sent the case to the grand jury. Belt faces multiple charges, including murder.

101st Airborne soldiers to return from Africa mission

FORT CAMPBELL (AP) — More than 100 members of the 101st Airborne Division are returning to Fort Campbell after a six-month mission in Africa.

The Army post is having a welcoming ceremony on Monday. The soldiers of the 327th Infantry Regiment were part of the East African Response Force, a rapid-response and security force for U.S. interests in the Horn of Africa. Most were stationed at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

The members conducted day and night maneuvers and live-fire exercises in case they were deployed somewhere within the African continent.

Fort Campbell says in a news release that the soldiers helped improve readiness and strengthen partner relationships on the continent of Africa.

West Virginia probe: No criminal violations in teen death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — An investigation has found no criminal wrongdoing by workers at a West Virginia residential care facility after a teenager escaped, stole a van and was involved in a fatal crash.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail obtained an investigative report by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

In March, 13-year-old Jeremy Bush climbed out a window at the Woodward Children’s Home in Charleston, which is operated by Louisville, Kentucky-based ResCare Inc.

The report says several people tried to stop the boy as he backed out of a driveway. He drove less than a half-mile before the van crashed into a retaining wall.

The report says there was no way to determine who was at fault for the teen having access to the van keys. Police declined to file criminal charges.

Missing Indiana man’s remains found on Ohio River island

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Human remains found last year on an Ohio River island have been identified as those of an Indiana man reported missing in late 2015.

Police said Saturday that DNA testing had confirmed the remains are those of 26-year-old Randall David Austin Jr., whose death remains under investigation.

A passing fisherman found the Evansville, Indiana man’s remains in August 2016 on Diamond Island, an island along the Ohio River about 10 miles west of Henderson, Kentucky.

Austin’s mother, Callie Southard-Doss, tells WFIE-TV she “just lost it” when Kentucky State Police informed her that the remains were those of her son.

She says the sad news means she doesn’t need to worry about her son any longer, but now she wants to know what happened to him.

Wife of ex-coach pleads guilty to statutory rape charges

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The wife of a former high school assistant football coach in Tennessee has pleaded guilty to having sex with a 16-year-old player on her husband’s team.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports Kelsey McCarter, 27, pleaded guilty to seven counts, including six charges of statutory rape. The report says she agreed to a three-year prison term but could be eligible for release after serving about a third of her sentence.

The mother of a Knoxville high school sophomore says the encounters occurred in 2015 while the teen had lived with McCarter and her husband, Justin McCarter. The husband had invited the student to live at their home after the teen faced behavioral problems, according to the report.

Justin McCarter resigned last year.

6 months in jail for ex-athlete in attack on kissing men

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A former Marshall University football player was sentenced Monday to six months in jail in an attack on two men he saw kissing.

Steward Butler was accused of punching the men and shouting homophobic slurs after seeing them kissing outdoors in Huntington in April 2015. Butler apologized before being sentenced on two counts of battery.

In May, the West Virginia Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of felony civil rights charges against Butler. Circuit Judge Paul Farrell ruled last year that Butler could not be charged with a hate crime because it appeared that state lawmakers intended to leave protections based on sexual orientation out of the law.

The Supreme Court said lawmakers have rejected every attempt to include sexual orientation since the law was enacted three decades ago. The high court said there have been at least 26 failed attempts to amend the statute to include sexual orientation.

At Monday’s sentencing, Cabell County assistant prosecutor Lauren Plymale ridiculed the state law and sought the maximum sentence for Butler, who had faced up to a year on each count. Plymale previously argued in court that sexual-orientation discrimination should fall under the West Virginia code banning sex discrimination.

The two men did not attend the hearing. Both are now police officers.

At his plea hearing in July, Butler admitted to marijuana use and Farrell ordered him to be drug tested weekly.

Butler was a running back at Marshall from 2012 to 2014. His best season was in 2014 when he ran for 798 yards and seven touchdowns.