May 2, 2013
HAZARD – The trial of a Knott County man who allegedly gunned down a physician in Perry County in 2009 was delayed again last week, and is now scheduled to begin this summer.
John C. Combs, 49, has been in jail on a $1 million bond since the Dec. 8, 2009, shooting death of Dr. Dennis Sandlin at the Leatherwood-Blackey Clinic. Combs was alleged to have shot Dr. Sandlin inside the clinic after being refused pain medication. He was indicted the following month on charges including murder and first-degree burglary, and is facing the death penalty if convicted.
Combs was set to go on trial later this month in Perry Circuit Court, but during a status hearing on April 25 the trial was continued to July 22, according to court records, though no order was included with the file. To date, the trial has been continued several times. Combs pleaded not guilty to the charges in January 2010, and was originally set to go to trial on May 9, 2011.
Judge John David Caudill also ruled on several defense motions in the case recently. Defense attorneys reiterated their arguments for a change of venue and to exclude the death penalty, motions Caudill had previously ruled against. Again, he overruled the request for a change of venue, keeping the trial in Perry County, and also the request to exclude the death penalty in the case.
Attorneys in the case are not available for comment, as a gag order issued in 2010 remains in place, prohibiting any participants from publicly commenting on details of the case.