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State News in Brief

Bill would eventually end state’s snow-day school program

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky would eventually eliminate a program allowing public school students to work from home during snow days under a bill that has cleared the state Senate.

Senate bill 73 passed the Kentucky Senate by a vote of 36-0. The bill would eliminate the state’s Non-Traditional Instruction program in three years. The program lets district send work home with students during snow days, so the day does not count as an absence and the school does not have to make it up by the end of the year.

But Republican state Sen. David Givens said some districts are having students do minimal work and counting it as a school day. He said the program creates “disparities of learning” among the state’s school districts.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives.

2 found dead in home after blaze

MANCHESTER, Ky. (AP) — Police say two women have been found dead after a fire at a residence in southeastern Kentucky.

The blaze was reported early Monday at a home in Clay County. Kentucky State Police said in a statement that the bodies of 37-year-old Jessica Duff and 42-year-old Silina Duff were found in a bedroom of the home. Police say autopsies on both women will be performed Tuesday in Frankfort.

The cause of the blaze hasn’t been determined, but the investigation is continuing.

Lawmakers continue quick work on victims’ rights proposal

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers are moving quickly on a proposal to award constitutional protections to crime victims.

A House committee on Monday advanced the proposed constitutional amendment to ensure victims have a voice at criminal proceedings of their alleged assailants.

That puts the proposal one step away from reaching the statewide ballot. If the measure clears the full House, Kentucky voters will decide in November whether to add it to the state Constitution. The measure has already cleared the Senate.

Known as Marsy’s Law, the proposal would guarantee that victims have the right to notice of court proceedings, the right to be present at judicial hearings, the right to be heard at pleas and other proceedings and the right to avoid unreasonable delays.

The legislation is Senate Bill 3.

Man arrested in Texas in shooting deaths of 2 in Ky.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A man has been arrested in Texas in the deaths of two men found shot in a Kentucky apartment last week.

Twenty-three-year-old Aaron Hernandez was arrested in Fayette County, Texas, on Jan. 20 and is awaiting extradition to Louisville, where he faces charges in the Jan. 18 deaths of 30-year-old Joshua Rice and 31-year-old David Kandelaki. Their bodies were found after Kandelaki’s wife reported him missing.

According to an arrest report, Hernandez was in a romantic relationship with Rice. WDRB-TV reports court documents indicate Rice filed a request for a protection order against Hernandez on Jan. 10, but a court hadn’t yet made a decision at the time of Rice’s death.

Louisville Metro police said in an email to The Courier-Journal that there are no other suspects.

Coroner: Accused judge-executive dies of several causes

HENDERSON, Ky. (AP) — A coroner says a Kentucky judge-executive charged with using his position to solicit gifts and payments has died from a combination of causes.

Union County coroner Stephen Shouse tells The Gleaner that 45-year-old Joseph L. “Jody” Jenkins died of pulmonary edema, an enlarged heart and significant blockage of the coronary vessels.

The preliminary causes came from an autopsy performed Monday in Louisville. Jenkins’ body was found at his Morganfield home Sunday.

Shouse says a final ruling on Jenkins’ cause of death won’t be made until the medical examiner’s office receives toxicology results.

Jenkins was charged in September with four counts of scheming to defraud the county.

U.S. Attorney’s Office public information officer Stephanie Collins says prosecutors will submit a motion to dismiss the charges against Jenkins and close the case.

Drug test debated at trial of trucker charges in 6 deaths

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The trial of a Kentucky trucker charged with killing six people and injuring others in 2015 when his tractor-trailer careered into stopped traffic on a Tennessee highway focused on drug test results Tuesday.

News outlets report that prosecutors said Benjamin Brewer, 42, caused the crash while high on methamphetamines and never hit the brakes.

“Four-hundred-fifty-three feet that sounded like cries for help and helplessness at the same time. That is what this man,” said prosecutor Crystle Carrion, pointing to Brewer, “left behind him when he crashed his tractor-trailer going 80 mph while high on meth.”

However, Brewer’s public attorneys said he fell asleep at the wheel and that the evaluation used to determine that Brewer was on drugs is reliable only 33 percent of the time. Defense attorney Erinn O’Leary said that although state witnesses contended Brewer was remorseless after the wreck, none of them documented any concerns about Brewer being under the influence.

Brewer is charged with six counts of vehicular homicide, four counts of reckless aggravated assault and three other driving charges. He faces up to 72 years in prison if convicted.