News Around the State

Published 12:09 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Election held to replace lawmaker who killed self

SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A special election is being held in Kentucky to replace a legislator who killed himself after allegations surfaced from a woman who accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.

Dan Johnson killed himself in December after adamantly denying the sexual assault allegations from the pulpit of his church. Johnson’s widow, Rebecca, is vying for the seat against former state Rep. Linda Belcher, a Democrat.

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Rebecca Johnson has defended her husband and has said the allegations against him are not true.

Belcher held the seat before narrowly losing to Dan Johnson in 2016. She was first elected in 2008 when she replaced her husband on the ballot, who was killed in a car wreck.

Polls close at 6 p.m. EST.

State police: Man charged in killings of grandparents, uncle

SCOTTSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky State Police say a man charged with murder in the shootings of his grandparents and uncle had been arrested in Colorado.

Police spokesman Trooper Jeremy Hodges tells news outlets 28-year-old Edward D. Siddens was captured Monday evening after a vehicle chase with Sedgwick County, Colorado, sheriff’s deputies. Hodges says the bodies of 73-year-old Jimmy Neal Siddens, his wife, 72-year-old Helen Siddens, and their son, 41-year-old Jimmy Neal Siddens II, had been found hours before at their Allen County home.

Bowling Green Daily News reports an Aug. 22 domestic violence order of protection bars Siddens from contact with his grandmother. Court records say his address then was a state psychiatric hospital.

Siddens is jailed in Colorado on several charges pending extradition. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer.

Billboard is tagged with ‘Kill the NRA;’ gun group responds

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The National Rifle Association is rallying members after a Kentucky billboard was spray-painted with the message “Kill the NRA.”

The NRA’s verified Facebook page posted a photo of the sign Monday, telling gun owners, “this is a wakeup call. They’re coming after us.” It asks members to like and share to spread the word. The post had been shared more than 50,000 times by Tuesday morning.

Outfront Media, which owns the billboard along Interstate 65 in Louisville, told local TV stations they are working to remove the vandalism. The billboard was tagged with “Resist 45,” a group that opposes President Donald Trump.

It comes after 17 people died in a Florida school shooting, renewing debate over U.S. gun laws.

Outfront Media and Louisville police didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

New judge takes over post for judge against gay adoption

GLASGOW, Ky. (AP) — A new judge has taken over for a Kentucky judge who retired amid controversy over his objection to hearing adoption cases involving gay and lesbian adults.

The Glasgow Daily Times reports 49-year-old Traci Peppers was sworn in last week to fill the vacancy left by former Judge W. Mitchell Nance.

The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded Nance after he stepped down, saying he violated canons prohibiting judges from showing bias based on sexual orientation, race, religion and national origin.

Peppers was appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin as an interim family court judge for Barren and Metcalfe counties until voters decide in the 2018 general election who will finish Nance’s term.

Peppers and attorney Mica Wood Pence will appear on the ballot in November.

Inmate who escaped from court remains at large

CYNTHIANA, Ky. (AP) — Authorities say an inmate in Kentucky escaped custody during court.

Harrison County Jailer Steve Slade tells WKYT-TV that Gary Courtney became disruptive during court proceedings on Monday, and then escaped from the holding room in which he was isolated. Slade says Courtney was handcuffed and shackled at the time.

The jailer says Courtney may have changed from a dark blue jumpsuit to khaki pants and a shirt.

The station did not report the reason why Courtney was in court.

Man shot by officer claims he posed no physical threat

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A lawsuit filed by a man who was shot by an officer while in an abandoned Kentucky home last year claims he never posed a physical threat to the officer.

The Courier-Journal of Louisville reports 38-year-old Bruce Warrick was shot after being found by Officer Sarah Stumler, who was searching a house due to reports of a man doing drugs inside.

Warrick’s lawsuit notes he was unarmed. It also claims Stumler had no reason to believe he posed any threat of serious bodily injury to the officer.

Two other officers were also at the scene but didn’t fire their weapons.

Stumler remains on administrative leave as the Jefferson Commonwealth’s attorney continues to review if criminal charges against the officer are warranted. The newspaper didn’t report if they’d reached out to Stumler for a comment.