For the second time in four months, a Williamsburg woman, who is charged with murder and other offenses in connection with a July 2016 traffic crash that claimed the life of a Canadatown woman, has lost her bid to get a lower bond.
Sonia Askins, 47, is scheduled to stand trial on Sept. 14 on charges of murder, leaving the scene of an accident, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, tampering with physical evidence, fourth-degree assault and first-degree wanton endangerment.
In March Whitley Circuit Judge Dan Ballou raised Askins’ bond to $250,000 cash after a drug screen showed she had opiates in her system. She had been free on a $150,000 property bond prior to that.
Tuesday morning, Corbin attorney Seth Reeves entered his official appearance as Askins’ new attorney and asked that her bond be reduced back down to a property bond.
Askins’ prior attorney made a similar motion in April that Ballou denied.
Reeves told Ballou Tuesday that Askins had pain medication prescribed to her for a prior eye surgery, and that he had supplied Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Trimble with a copy of the prescription prior to the hearing.
“I think everyone can agree that she has a valid prescription,” Reeves told Ballou. “I honestly believe she didn’t do anything wrong.”
Reeves noted that Askins needs treatment for several medical issues.
He said the jail is trying to accommodate her medical needs, but that Askins has had lots of doctor appointments that had been missed.
“I’m not changing the bond,” Ballou noted.
Ballou asked why he was just now hearing about a valid prescription months after the initial drug test.
“What is the deal? It doesn’t make sense,” Ballou said.
Ballou added that Askins’ speech was slurred during her March court hearing, which is one of the reasons he ordered the drug test, and the crime she is accused of committing involved the use of such drugs.
“She was, I believe, over medicated when here before,” Ballou said about the March hearing.
In April, Askins’ prior attorney told Ballou that she had gotten a prescription in February for hydrocodone, which she took, as needed, according to News Journal records.
Reeves told Ballou Tuesday that it might have been that a copy of the prescription hadn’t been supplied to Trimble during the April bond hearing.
Askins trial had previously been scheduled for Sept. 14.
Ballou noted that he assumed Reeves would need more time to prepare for the trial since he had just entered the case, and he offered to set a new trial date as quickly as Reeves felt he could get prepared for the trial.
Reeves initially asked that the trial be postponed for two or three months, but after court officials couldn’t find time on the schedule for a three-day trial this fall, Reeves noted that he could get ready in time for the Sept. 14 trial date.
On July 25, 2016, Askins was allegedly driving a 2004 Suzuki Firenze south on Ky. 895 when she crossed the centerline of the roadway and struck Teresa and Joshua Bennett of Williamsburg, who were walking south in the northbound lane.
Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley pronounced Teresa Bennett dead at the scene. Joshua Bennett was taken by ambulance to Baptist Health Corbin where he was treated and released.
After the crash, Askins left the scene of the accident without rendering aid, but later returned.
Askins allegedly told police that after she struck the pedestrians she drove beside them and asked if they were OK. When a detective asked her why she left the scene, she responded that she was in shock, her arrest citation stated.
Askins’ boyfriend reportedly told her to return to the accident scene.
Kentucky State Police Trooper Delzie Kelly, who investigated the crash, testified during an August preliminary hearing that Askins admitted to having a shot of moonshine and taking Oxycodone earlier in the day before the crash.
Witnesses reportedly watched Askins cross the centerline and strike the couple, Kelly wrote on the arrest citation.