A special prosecutor, who is overseeing the case against a Corbin man charged with attempting to arrange the murder of four individuals, including two elected Whitley County court officials, is also seeking to have the suspect’s probation revoked in connection with a 2015 Whitley Circuit Court case where he is also serving as special prosecutor.
On March 9, Kentucky State Police Trooper David Lassiter charged William T. Sutton, 54, with four counts of complicity to commit murder, four counts of retaliating against a participant in a legal process and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, following a two-week investigation.
Lassiter began the investigation after he received information that Sutton, who was being held in the Whitley County Detention Center for violation of a Kentucky EPO/DVO, was conspiring to have the individuals murdered.
According to the arrest citation, the four individuals are involved in the ongoing legal proceedings against him. So far, officials haven’t publically identified the victims in the case.
Sutton had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing in the case Monday morning, but Whitley District Judge Cathy Prewitt agreed to postpone the hearing until April 3 in order to give Sutton more time to hire a private attorney.
“I need some time to find an attorney. My wife is trying but it is really difficult,” Sutton told Prewitt during Monday’s hearing. “I have no money. My wife has a little bit of money. We are trying to find somebody.”
Prewitt asked Sutton if he wanted to see if he qualified for a public defender, but Sutton replied that he knows he doesn’t because he makes over $1,000 per month.
Sutton was indicted on Aug. 17, 2015 for intimidating a participant in the legal process. Last year, Sutton pleaded guilty to the charge, and received a two-year prison sentence on May 6 that was conditionally discharged for two years.
The plea deal called for Sutton to be placed on state probation supervision for five years and to have no contact with the victim.
Knox and Laurel County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele, who is currently serving as the special prosecutor in both cases, filed a motion to have Sutton’s probation revoked in the 2015 case.
Steele said that Sutton has been accused of various violations of his probation, including the entry of an E.P.O./D.V.O., forthwith orders of arrests and picking up new charges.
Sutton was back in court in last Tuesday morning for a brief hearing in that case.
The only witness called during the hearing was probation and parole officer Teresa Foley, who is Sutton’s probation officer.
Foley said that Sutton was doing well on his probation until early August when she started to see charges being filed against him.
At that point in the hearing, Whitley Circuit Judge Dan Ballou noted that he didn’t want to hear about new arrests Sutton may have had since he was placed on probation, just convictions he has had since that time. Ballou said he couldn’t consider Sutton’s arrests for purposes of revoking his probation, but that he could consider convictions.
Steele said that based upon Ballou’s instructions, the only relevant order or case was an Emergency Protective Order (E.P.O.), which could be a violation of Sutton’s probation.
Foley testified that Sutton was served with an E.P.O. on Aug. 8, 2016.
At this point, Steele and David Hoskins, who represents Sutton in the probation violation case, approached the judge’s bench for a conference that lasted several minutes and wasn’t audible to most other people in court.
Ballou then announced that he was postponing the probation revocation hearing for three months, and scheduled a July 3 hearing date in the case.
“Mr. Hoskins was challenging the due process issues of that because they are fighting the E.P.O. and it has not been converted to what we consider a D.V.O., or Domestic Violence Order, at this point in time,” Steele explained after court last Tuesday.
“For an E.P.O. to come into effect, you have to have notice that it has come into effect. Once you have notice then if you violate it there is what’s called a forthwith order. In this case a forthwith order had been issued against Mr. Sutton for violation of the E.P.O. Mr. Hoskins was challenging the fact that Mr. Sutton had not been served with the E.P.O. to have notice and his due process was violated by the forthwith order.”
Steele said this issue is being addressed in Whitley District Court.
According to Whitley County District Court records, Sutton was charged on Aug. 22 with violation of a Kentucky E.P.O./D.V.O. There was a mistrial on Jan. 18 concerning the allegation that Sutton violated the E.P.O., and so far no new trial date has been set.
Steele said that a new trial date is expected to be scheduled in that case within the next month.
Steele said that Ballou indicated he wanted to postpone the probation revocation hearing until July 3, and see if the E.P.O. violation case has been resolved by that time.
When asked why he was serving as the special prosecutor in the two cases, Steele said, “sometimes prosecutors find themselves in positions where there are issues that would give the appearance to the public of impropriety in the judicial system. In order to avoid that they will recuse themselves and a special prosecutor will come in for whatever reason that may be.”