TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

May 27, 2014

Ex-fire chief gets 10-year sentence

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

A 10-year sentence was made official Friday for former Stinking Creek Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jesse Jaynes.

Jaynes, 46, appeared with his attorney, Samuel Castle, before Judge Gregory Lay in Knox County Circuit Court for his brief sentencing hearing.

Commonwealth Attorney Jackie Steele reviewed the plea agreement for the court, in which Jaynes pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the death of 35-year-old James Cox.

Lay explained he reviewed the agreement, as well as victim impact statements, and made the sentence official, remanding Jaynes back into custody.

When Jaynes entered into his plea agreement in April. it was after a conference held in the judge’s chambers.

Once the court proceedings opened that day, Castle was asked by Lay if an agreement had been reached.

“I want the court to know everything that was promised to Mr. Jaynes,” he said — twice.

After several moments of silence during which Lay reviewed the agreement, Lay said he wasn’t clear as to what promises had been made.

Castle explained Steele has assured he will review the facts and evidence in this case, and that “if he (Steele) feels a lesser charge (is in order) — he will amend (the indictment) at a later date.”

Lay then began the process of accepting the guilty plea — which began with him reading Steele’s motion to amend the indictment against Jaynes from murder to first-degree manslaughter under extreme emotional disturbance.

Lay sustained that motion.

After several standard questions from Lay which brought simple “yes” or “no” answers from Jaynes, Lay then began to discuss Castle’s motion for Jaynes to enter his guilty plea.

He could face 10-20 years imprisonment, a fine of $10,000 or both for the first-degree manslaughter charge.

But the plea agreement opts for the lower-end of that scale — 10 years — on the proviso that “he testifies truthfully” in Cox’s shooting death.

Then a letter from Steele to Castle was mentioned by Lay, which Lay said was “being tendered with the plea.”

Then the hearing moved on to the point Jaynes was to enter his plea.

“Did you, in fact…commit manslaughter in the first degree under extreme emotional disturbance…by intentionally causing the death of Cox,” Lay asked Jaynes.

“I done what I felt I had to do at the time,” Jaynes testified.

Lay repeated the question again.

“I done what I felt I had to do at the time,” Jaynes said again.

Castle then requested five minutes to confer with Jaynes.

When Lay then asked the question a third time, Jaynes said, “I admit to the offense.”

When asked in what way he was guilty — he answered, “I shot a man.”

“Was it James Cox?” Lay asked.

“Yes,” answered Jaynes.

Lay then asked if Jaynes was pleading guilty “of his own free will.”

“Uh, I guess so,” Jaynes said.

He then confirmed he pleaded guilty “of my own free will.”

“It has been indicated (that the Commonwealth) will look at the evidence (and) may or may not make a recommendation at sentencing (of reducing his charges further),” Lay said, and then asked, “how do you plead to the charge.”

“Guilty,” Jaynes said.

Cox was found dead on the Jaynes’ property with at least two gunshot wounds two days after Christmas in 2012.

Jaynes and his wife, Angela Jaynes, 40, who lived in the Bailey Branch Road residence near the Mills community where Cox was killed, originally led detectives to believe Cox’s death was self-defense, according to Kentucky State Trooper and public information officer Shane Jacobs.

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