Felony cases dismissed following deputy jailer’s indictment

Cris Ritchie — Editor

October 8, 2013

HAZARD—Two felony drug cases were recently dismissed in Perry Circuit Court, with the prosecutor citing the credibility of the complaining witness as the reason.

Commonwealth’s Attorney John Hansen moved on Sept. 25 to dismiss the cases against 39-year-old Betty Ritchie of Knott County, and 23-year-old Carolyn Baker of Hazard. The witness listed on the indictment against both women, Damon Hickman, is currently under indictment himself for manslaughter in connection with the beating death of an inmate at the Kentucky River Regional Jail in July.

Ritchie was indicted by the grand jury in June 2012, while Baker was indicted in February. Both women were alleged to have attempted to bring drugs into the jail in separate instances. According to Hansen, however, the credibility of the case was in question considering the current status of the complaining witness, who likely would have had to take the stand were the cases tried before a jury.

“I don’t think anybody would be well served by forcing him on the stand and having him take the Fifth, and having the inevitable not guilty occur,” Hansen said.

Hickman, who is set to go on trial himself in February, is currently on home incarceration.

Jail Administrator Tim Kilburn was also present during the hearing in court last month, and did not voice an objection to the dismissals.

Judge William Engle ordered both cases dismissed without prejudice.