Perry District Judge Leigh Ann Stephens made a finding of probable cause and sent the case against 38-year-old Jerry Wooton, of Hazard, to the grand jury Tuesday morning following testimony during a preliminary hearing.
Wooton was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree assault in connection with a shooting that occured at Ladder Branch in the Combs community on the evening of October 9.
Detective Gary Sandlin with the Kentucky State Police testified Tuesday that Post 13 received the call from a man saying that his brother had been shot, but when police arrived on scene they discovered that two men, Clyde Haynes, Jr., 26, and Thomas Roberts, Jr., 31 had received gunshot wounds to the chest and facial area and a red, extended cab Chevy pickup truck had fled the scene at a high rate of speed.
Sandlin said when he arrived the first person he talked to was John Haynes, who was standing on the porch of the residence from where the two victims came when the shooting occured.
He said that Haynes told him “the red pickup truck came up the hollow and someone yelled, ‘Bring me a blow job.’ He said the guy in the pick up truck yelled back and said, ‘I will be right back,’” and that is when the pickup truck went on up into the hollow. After a few minutes, Sandlin said that Haynes told him the truck came back and stopped at the foot of the driveway at the gate.
“He said the two victims started walking off the driveway toward the gate and when they got close to the gate one shot was fired and the red truck took off at a high rate of speed,” Sandlin told the court.
Another witness, Marcus Combs, who was also at the residence during the shooting, told Sandlin that he, along with Haynes, the two victims, and Robin Herald, were on the porch drinking before the shooting occured. However, Sandlin said that neither of those two witnesses recognized the truck.
Combs did give police the names Johnny McIntosh and during the investigation the name Pete Combs also surfaced, Sandlin told the court. After leaving Ladder Branch, Sandlin said that he along with Detective Clayton Stamper and Troopers Jackie Pickrell and Jennifer Sandlin went to Pete Combs’ residence where he told them that he didn’t know who was driving the truck, but McIntosh did and that McIntosh and the driver of the truck had been in Ladder Branch that day.
After talking to Pete Combs, Sandlin said that he and Detective Stamper located McIntosh, who stated he had been in Combs earlier that day and that Wooton had picked him up and they had gone to Ladder Branch looking for Pete Combs, but they never found him.
“He told us Mr. Wooton’s name, what he was driving, where he lived, and that Jerry had been in contact with him earlier that day. He also stated they went to the old skating rink in Combs and he talked to some girl named Tiffany, who turned out to be Tiffany Maniece. Johnny said she had tried to sell him and Jerry a gun, but they didn’t buy it and when they left her residence is when they went to Ladder Branch,” Sandlin said.
Then the officers went to Wooton’s residence where he gave them consent to search his house and truck, but they didn’t find a weapon. Sandlin said that he also voluntarily gave them the clothes - a blue pair of pants, a white t-shirt, and a work shirt with Wooton’s name on it - he was wearing that day and they have been sent to the lab to be tested for gunshot residue. Those results are pending.
Wooton was taken to Post 13 for an interview where he denied being with McIntosh that day, Sandlin said.
“Trooper Pickrell gave him a ride to Post and he stated he hadn’t been in Combs that day. He said he knew Johnny McIntosh but it had been several years since he had seen him and he stated he knew a Pete Combs, but didn’t know if it was the one I was talking about,” Sandlin said.
Wooton’s statements contradicted McIntosh’s, but Sandlin said he “thought it was a little odd” that McIntosh knew how much Wooton had paid for his truck, which led him to believe they had been together.
The next day, Friday, Sandlin said that he and Stamper were recontacted by Pete Combs, who was at a residence across the road from where the shooting occured when it happened and said that Wooton had been in Ladder Branch on the night of the shooting, which was a different statement than what he had given police the day before.
“He said he was intoxicated the night before and thought he might be arrested because he was intoxicated and that is why he didn’t get involved the night before,” Sandlin explained. “During our interview with him on that day he stated that Wooton had come to the house where he was at and he walked outside where Jerry was at.”
Sandlin said that Combs told him that Wooton got out of his truck and after talking for a while Wooton told him that he was looking for Johnny McIntosh.
“Pete Combs also said that he asked him who was with him and Wooton said, ‘No one.’ He said they talked for a few minutes, Jerry backed out of the driveway, he (Combs) went in the house, and as he came out of the house Jerry’s truck was parked at the gate and he heard one shot, what sounded like a door shut on a truck and a truck take off at a high rate of speed,” Sandlin said.
Combs also described the clothing that Wooton was wearing on the night of the shooting which matched the clothing that Wooton had given police at his residence, Sandlin testified. He went on to say that the red truck at the scene of the shooting had a Harley Davidson sticker in the back window and Sandlin said that Wooton’s truck also had a Harley Davidson sticker in the window.
Sandlin said that James Beatty, who also lives at the old skating rink with Maniece, identified Wooton in a photo line up of six pictures as being the driver of the red truck that night when they were at the old skating rink.
To help recap the testimony that the court had heard, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Charles Allen pointed out that Pete Combs and Johnny McIntosh identified Wooton as being in Ladder Branch that night and that Beatty identified him as being somewhere beside his home as Wooton and his wife had told police.
Wooton was arrested in Vicco while at work on Friday, October 10, around 2:30 p.m. Police say they have no motive for the shooting and that no gun connected to the case has been found, but Sandlin believes the shot was fired from a shotgun.
A motion for bond reduction was also denied. Wooton is currently being held in the Kentucky River Regional Jail.
Sandlin said that Haynes is still in the University of Kentucky Medical Center where he was listed in serious condition as of Friday and that Roberts had been released from UK and gone back to his residence in Indiana.