News Around the State

Magistrate candidate faces child porn, sexual abuse charges

WHITESBURG, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky magistrate candidate has been indicted on charges of child pornography, sexual abuse and retaliating against a witness.

The Mountain Eagle reports 61-year-old Emory Lee “Fudge” Mullins is a candidate for Letcher County magistrate in the November election but was arrested Tuesday. He faces charges, including first-degree sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years old and eight counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performance by a minor involving eight separate young boys.

A complaint filed by parents of a girl claim Mullins engaged in a long-running pattern of improper sexual contact with their daughter, now 8.

Mullins was also arrested last month when he allegedly entered property belonging to the family of the girl after being told not to. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer.

Unemployment rates fall in nearly all Ky. counties

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky officials say unemployment rates fell in 117 of the state’s 120 counties between May 2017 and May 2018.

The Kentucky Center for Statistics says jobless rates rose in Owen and Spencer counties and stayed the same in Oldham County.

It says Woodford County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.9 percent. It was followed by Campbell and Scott counties at 3.1 percent each. Boone and Fayette counties were next at 3.2 percent each. Allen, Kenton and Warren counties had 3.3 percent rates.

Magoffin County had the state’s highest jobless rate at 12 percent. Elliott County was next at 7.6 percent, followed by Carter County at 7.4 percent. Harlan County had a 7.3 percent rate, while Lewis, Owsley and Wayne counties were at 7.1 percent each.

Gov. Bevin: Judge who ruled against me is ‘terrible’

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s Republican governor says the judge who struck down a pension law he signed is “terrible” at his job and makes decisions based on politics.

Gov. Matt Bevin called Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd a “liberal Democrat” during a CNBC interview on Thursday. Shepherd ruled on Wednesday that a recently enacted pension law was unconstitutional because of how lawmakers passed it. Republican leaders replaced a bill that had been about sewer systems with the pension bill on one of the final days of the legislative session.

Bevin has criticized Shepherd in the past, calling him an “incompetent hack.” Shepherd has not responded to Bevin’s comments.

Bevin said the law was needed to “stop the bleeding” in Kentucky’s pension system, which is one of the worst-funded systems in the country.

Lawsuit seeks protection for crayfish from coal mining

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Two protected crayfish species are being harmed by coal mining in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia, according to a federal lawsuit from an environmental group.

The Center for Biological Diversity alleges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is late in designating habitat areas for the crayfish.

The Big Sandy crayfish and Guyandotte River crayfish were protected by the Endangered Species Act in 2016 because of habitat loss and water pollution, the suit says.

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman declined to comment because the lawsuit is pending.

The suit, filed Wednesday in West Virginia, said the crayfish are “highly imperiled due to declining water quality and habitat loss from coal mining and urban development within their watersheds.”

Perrin De Jong, an attorney with the center, said disturbances from surface mining move sediment into the streambed, disturbing the crayfish’s habitat.

“Protecting the habitat of these unique species will help prevent their extinction and protect water quality for local residents,” de Jong said in a news release. “These rare crayfish could be wiped out by the mines.”

The group wants a judge to compel the agency to designate habitat areas. They said the Guyandotte River crayfish has lost more than 90 percent of its range and is now only found in Wyoming County, West Virginia.

The Guyandotte crayfish is listed as an endangered species and the Big Sandy crayfish as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, according to the lawsuit.

Not guilty pleas entered for 4 in death of woman

LONDON, Ky. (AP) — A judge has entered not guilty pleas for the daughter and son-in-law of a Kentucky woman who was reported missing and found dead.

The Times-Tribune reports the pleas were entered for 31-year-old Joseph Craig McFadden and 28-year-old Christy Elizabeth McFadden on Wednesday on charges in the death of 58-year-old Sherry Rose. The McFaddens face multiple charges including abuse of a corpse.

An attorney entered not guilty pleas for 48-year-old Michael Hinkle and 24-year-old Cody Allen Hinkle. They are charged with tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.

A Laurel County Sheriff’s Office statement says detectives believe Rose was stabbed during a June 15 altercation involving the McFaddens. Authorities say they purchased items to clean up the crime scene before dumping the body in a rural location.

Preliminary hearings are set for Tuesday.