News Around the State

School choice backers tout scholarship tax credit proposal

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — School choice supporters in Kentucky are urging state lawmakers to support a tax credit program aimed at boosting private school scholarships.

House Majority Floor Leader John “Bam” Carney said Thursday that the proposal will be introduced when lawmakers reconvene in early February to resume this year’s legislative session. Similar bills calling for a scholarship tax credit program died in previous years.

School choice supporters rallied in the cold outside the statehouse on Thursday.

The proposal would allow individuals and businesses to receive tax credits for donations to scholarship-granting organizations that provide assistance to low- and middle-income students.

Carney, a Republican from Campbellsville, says the scholarships help students find the education that best fits their needs.

Others speaking at the rally included State Treasurer Allison Ball and state Sen. Ralph Alvarado.

Westerfield withdraws from Ky. attorney general’s race

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Facing a strong primary challenge from an ally of powerful U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky state Senator withdrew from the 2019 attorney general’s race on Friday.

He was the 2015 Republican nominee for attorney general, but lost a close race to Democrat Andy Beshear.

The decision by Republican Whitney Westerfield gives a clear path, for the moment, to a GOP nomination for Daniel Cameron, a lawyer who has never run for public office before but spent two years in Washington helping McConnell confirm conservative federal judges as his top lawyer.

Westerfield did not say if he would endorse Cameron, saying “we’ll see what happens” by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline to file for statewide office.

Beshear is not seeking re-election, choosing to run for governor instead. Former Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo has said he plans to run for attorney general, an office he held from 2004 to 2008.

Families sue parents of Ky. school shooting suspect

BENTON, Ky. (AP) — The families of victims of a Kentucky school shooting have filed separate civil lawsuits blaming the suspect’s parents for failing to secure a handgun used in the attack.

The lawsuits say the mother and stepfather of Gabriel Parker were negligent in supervising the teen, who is charged with double murder and assault in the Jan. 23, 2018, shootings at Marshall County High School. Police say Parker, now 16, used his stepfather’s gun.

School officials also are named in a lawsuit brought by the family of Bailey Holt, The Paducah Sun reported. Holt and Preston Cope, both 15, died in the shooting.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday by Cope’s parents names only Parker, his mother and stepfather. In that suit, the family alleges that Gabriel Parker kept “materials, publications, and items devoted to deadly weapons and violence as well as (World War II) and the Nazi Regime.” It also alleges Parker made reference to “the kids (he) may hurt” before the shootings.

A number for Parker’s mother, Mary Minyard, and stepfather, Justin Minyard, could not be located. Court records indicated the couple has a residence in Mississippi.

Police say Parker told them he took a Ruger 9mm semi-automatic pistol from his stepfather’s bedroom the night before the shooting and hid it in a laundry basket.

The lawsuit filed by Holt’s family alleges school system employees knew or should’ve known of Gabriel Parker’s “dangerous propensities” and didn’t monitor or prevent his actions. It says employees failed to comply with school safety regulations, resulting in the shooting.

Mike Owsley, an attorney for the school district, disputed allegations that Parker’s violent tendencies were known and said the school had an action plan.

“This could not have been predicted and prevented,” Owsley told The Paducah Sun.

“Based on what we have learned, there was nobody that anticipated or had any preconceived notions that this young man was violent or likely to be violent,” he said.

A trial date for Parker’s criminal case is pending.

Authorities investigate death of jail inmate

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of an inmate at a Kentucky jail.

The State Journal reports 21-year-old Dylan H. Stratton of Frankfort was found dead inside his cell early Wednesday at the Franklin County Regional Jail.

Jail spokesman Ron Wyatt says foul play is not suspected, but declined further comment. He said Frankfort police were investigating.

Franklin County Coroner Will Harrod said the cause and manner of death haven’t been established.

Stratton was indicted the day before his death on drug and other charges.

No jail time for man who threatened coach’s high school

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky man won’t serve any jail time after he tweeted threats against the high school attended by Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm, who turned down the head coach position at the University of Louisville.

News outlets report 29-year-old Thor Wiljanen admitted to third-degree terroristic threatening Thursday. He had been arrested in November and originally charged with felony terroristic threatening.

Among other conditions, the Louisville man was ordered to not have any contact with Trinity High School. He also cannot post about Trinity on social media. If Wiljanen breaks any condition of his release, he could be incarcerated for 180 days.

Wiljanen tweeted he would burn Trinity down if Brohm didn’t accept the University of Louisville head coaching job.

Because of the tweets, school administrators canceled classes. Brohm later announced he would remain Purdue’s head coach.