News in Brief
Jury: $21.7M to survivors of 3 dead in medical chopper crash
MANCHESTER — A Kentucky jury has awarded $21.7 million to the families of three people who died in a June 2013 medical helicopter crash.
A jury in Clay County decided the award Thursday after a three-week trial and five hours of deliberation, according to local media outlets.
Four years ago, the helicopter crashed in an elementary school parking lot 750 feet (225 meters) from a helipad, killing pilot and retired sheriff’s deputy Eddy Sizemore, 61; paramedic Herman “Lee” Dobbs, 40; and Jesse Jones, 28.
Eight family members sued Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., the helicopter’s manufacturer.
A report by the National Transportation Safety Board said the crash probably occurred because the pilot became disoriented and lost control in foggy nighttime conditions.
But Gary C. Robb, an attorney who represented the families, said there was a main rotor blade defect, and the tail broom and roof broke off, leaving the crew helpless.
Witnesses saw the helicopter flying lower than normal and spinning before it crashed, according to the NTSB report.
Robb said Bell Helicopter executives have admitted knowledge of this defect in their main rotor blade manufacturing for more than two decades. He said the families are demanding the Federal Aviation Administration investigate the company. Bell said he will also file a complaint with the agency.
The favorable ruling for the families meant jurors decided that the company manufactured the helicopter component “in a defective condition, unreasonably dangerous to the user,” and that the problem factored significantly in the crash, jury instructions said.
Bell Helicopter spokeswoman Lindsey Hughes said the company will appeal, adding that the NTSB found no design or manufacturing flaws with the helicopter or its parts.
The jury awards varied for different family members. The highest amount was $7.5 million to the son of Jesse Jones.
Dig unexpectedly uncovers 19th-century tavern
LEWISBURG (AP) — An archaeologist says he’s unearthed a 19th-century tavern in Kentucky while digging for culturally significant items where an airport planned to expand a runway protection zone.
The Ledger Independent reports Orloff Miller and his crew weren’t expecting to find the tavern when he began the project in the summer of 2016 near Lewisburg in western Kentucky. The Fleming-Mason Airport had hired him to complete a cultural study of the farm property it purchased.
Miller says the tavern dates back to about 1807. He said he knew the tavern was once there, but what he found surprised him.
He says they discovered a 66-foot building with several rooms, much of it buried, and possibly the site of an innkeeper.
Miller believes the tavern likely was destroyed by a fire in the 1880s or 1890s.
Doctor charged with trafficking morphine
LAWRENCEBURG (AP) — A 73-year-old Kentucky doctor has been indicted on charges related to trafficking morphine.
WKYT-TV reports that Kenneth Hines was arrested Wednesday at his office in Lawrenceburg and indicted by a grand jury on drug trafficking charges.
Kentucky State Police say the Drug Enforcement Agency took Hines’ license to write prescriptions. Troopers also searched his Lawrenceburg Medical Clinic, which is now closed for business.
Hines bonded out of the Shelby County Jail after posting $10,000 cash bond.
He is scheduled for arraignment in early October. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer.
Police sergeant pleads not guilty to rape charge
LEXINGTON (AP) — A police sergeant in Kentucky has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree rape.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Lexington Police Sgt. Christopher Morrow entered the plea Friday in Fayette County Circuit Court after his indictment Monday by a grand jury.
The indictment says the alleged offense occurred March 20.
Defense attorney Scott Crosbie says Morrow is shocked by the allegations and disappointed by the decision to bring charges.
Lexington police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said in a news release that a complaint was filed against Morrow in May and was forwarded to Kentucky State Police for investigation.
Angel says the 39-year-old has been suspended without pay.
Morrow is free on bond.
UofL gets nearly $14M grant to study heart stem cells
LOUISVILLE — The University of Louisville has received a nearly $14 million grant to study a treatment for heart failure.
The university says the grant is one of the largest for medical research in the school’s history. The $13.8 million award from the National Institutes of Health is for the study of a new type of adult cardiac stem cell.
The study’s principal investigator, Dr. Robert Bolli, is studying ways to repair the heart using a patient’s own stem cells. A successful treatment would replace scar tissue with new muscle, making the heart stronger and able to pump more blood.
The funding comes after Bolli and his colleagues discovered a new population of adult stem cells, called CMCs, in the heart three years ago.
Former governor’s wife recovering from horse riding accident
LEXINGTON (AP) — The wife of former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear is recovering after being injured in a horse riding accident.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Beshear says his wife Jane fell from her horse during a competition at Kentucky Horse Park on Friday. She was taken to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital emergency room.
Steve Beshear tells the newspaper that while his wife is “somewhat battered and bruised, there appears to be no serious injuries of any kind.”
He adds that “we appreciate everybody who has inquired about her and wanted everybody to know she’ll be OK.”
Board: Woman who killed stepson must serve out life sentence
FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Parole Board says a woman convicted of kidnapping and killing her stepson nearly 25 years ago must serve out her life sentence.
Stephanie Spitser was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years in the 1992 slaying of her 10-year-old stepson, Scotty Baker. Media reported on Monday that officials denied parole for Spitser.
Scotty Baker was kidnapped from his school in Clay County and strangled before his body was set ablaze. The boy’s father, Donnie Baker, has said Spitser was jealous of the child.
Spitser told members of the parole board last week she didn’t deserve to be released, but that she didn’t intend to kill Baker.
Baker’s mother, Ruth Rose, and other family members urged the board to order Spitser to serve out her sentence.