News Around the State

Bourbon distilleries draw record number of visits

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky distilleries are reporting another record year for bourbon tourism in the state that produces most of the world’s bourbon.

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association says tourists made a record 1.4 million stops at distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour in 2018. KDA says that represents a 370 percent increase in the past decade.

KDA says the Kentucky Bourbon Trail logged 1 million visits for the first time since its creation in 1999. It says the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour — which includes smaller distilleries — tallied 340,000 distillery stops, the most since its founding in 2012.

A bill aimed at bourbon tourism has been introduced in the Kentucky legislature. The measure would allow distilleries to sell exclusive bottles in their gift shops.

Man charged with reckless homicide in crash that killed boy

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A University of Kentucky student accused of driving drunk in a crash that killed a 4-year-old boy now faces a reckless homicide charge.

News outlets report a grand jury included a misdemeanor DUI count in a new reckless homicide indictment of 18-year-old Jacob Heil that was filed this week. Through his attorney, Heil pleaded not guilty to DUI in September.

Marco Lee Shemwell died after being struck near the football stadium during Kentucky’s win against Murray State. Police say Shemwell had been waiting with his family to cross the street.

Heil told police he drank two beers and was at “game tailgating” before Shemwell was hit. The university suspended Heil and the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.

Heil’s attorney says they’ll vigorously defend him because there’ll be more evidence as the case proceeds.

Former county treasurer pleads guilty to stealing $161K

MCKEE, Ky. (AP) — A former county treasurer in Kentucky has admitted to writing $161,000 worth unauthorized checks to herself and trying to cover up the crime.

A joint statement from the FBI and Kentucky State Police says 38-year-old Beth N. Sallee of McKee pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of wire fraud.

The former Jackson County treasurer admitted to writing unauthorized checks to herself and forging the names of other county employees on them beginning in 2013. According to her guilty plea, she tried to cover up the crimes by removing parts of county financial documents and covering the page numbers with white out. She resigned from the position in 2016 and was indicted last year.

Sallee’s sentencing was scheduled for June 18.

Suspects in Tennessee double slaying arrested in Kentucky

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) — Police say two suspects in a double fatal shooting in Tennessee have been arrested in Kentucky.

A statement from the Kingsport Police Department in East Tennessee says the men were apprehended Tuesday evening in Adair County, Kentucky, and are awaiting extradition.

The statement says 19-year-old Joseph Dale Clark II of Bald Knob, Arkansas, and 22-year-old Alexander M. Hamilton of Kingsport were wanted in connection with the shootings Monday of 30-year-old Trevor L. Reed and 27-year-old Shyane I. Bishop at Stonecrest Apartments. Police say Reed died shortly after the shooting and Bishop died the next day.

The Kingsport Times News reports that before Bishop died, police obtained warrants charging Clark and Hamilton with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. The newspaper reports the charges are likely to be amended.

Police sergeant found not guilty of stalking woman

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A Lexington, Kentucky, police sergeant accused of stalking a woman has been found not guilty of official misconduct.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Sgt. Jervis Middleton was acquitted by a jury Wednesday. A woman sought a protective order against Middleton last summer, but a judge denied the request, concluding there wasn’t proof Middleton was stalking her.

He was accused of using police computers to stalk and spy on the woman after their sexual relationship ended. The request launched a police investigation and Middleton was subsequently charged second-degree official misconduct.

Middleton was charged with and faced up to 90 days in jail, a $250 fine or both if convicted. He was suspended with pay. Police spokesman Brenna Angel says he’s still suspended with pay pending an administrative review by the department.

Former special-needs teacher indicted on sex charges

CYNTHIANA, Ky. (AP) — Police say a woman who worked as a Kentucky special-needs teacher has been indicted on charges of rape and sex abuse involving a teenager who had been her student.

Kentucky State Police say in statement on Tuesday that a grand jury indicted 37-year-old Amanda Phillips on eight counts of rape, four counts of sex abuse and four counts of sodomy.

WKYT-TV reports Harrison County Schools said in a statement that due to the allegations, Phillips is no longer employed at Eastside Elementary School.

She is being held in the Bourbon County Detention Center. Online records don’t say if she has an attorney.

4 plead guilty in death of pregnant woman shot during theft

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Four men have pleaded guilty in the 2016 death of a pregnant Kentucky woman who was fatally hit by a stray bullet during a robbery.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports 22-year-old Demetrioun Boaz pleaded guilty to charges including murder Tuesday. Twenty-one-year-olds Joseph Fain and Saquan Freeman and 23-year-old Skylar Stigall pleaded guilty that day to charges including manslaughter.

Twenty-two-year-old Maryiah Coleman was eight-months pregnant when fatally shot while walking her family’s dog in September 2016. Her fetus also died. Authorities have said the men were trying to rob someone nearby when the victim ran and shots were fired.

Sentencing for the men is set for March 14. The four sought to have the death penalty excluded, but a judge overruled that motion in December.