, Corbin, KY

June 9, 2014

Death penalty sought in Knox

Taylor’s defense attorney notified of penalty sought in woman’s death

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

One of three defendants charged in the 2010 beating death of 67-year-old Catherine Mills could face the death penalty in her murder.

Jonathan M. Taylor, 26, appeared in Knox County Circuit Court with his defense attorneys Sam Cox and Heather Gatnerek before Judge Tom Jensen Friday.

Taylor's case had not been listed on the court docket — and when his case was called, those seated in the gallery were asked to remain seated during the proceedings.

It was learned that on Monday, the defense had filed a motion to have the September trial date moved.

On Wednesday, Commonwealth Attorney Jackie Steele said notice was filed that his office was seeking the death penalty against Taylor in this case.

After Friday's motion hearing, Steele explained the Commonwealth seeks the death penalty against Taylor because Mills' murder included "aggravating circumstances."

Steele added that at this time, his office is not seeking the death penalty against the other two defendants in this case, Amanda Hoskins, 29, of Barbourville and William Lester, of Flat Lick.

Taylor's defense attorneys said they had received the Commonwealth's notice — and they were preparing to oppose that notice, as it "would change the way the case was litigated," Gatnerek said.

She added that their office had originally been told by the Commonwealth "that their office was not seeking the death penalty in this case."

Gatnerek said she plans to submit a written objection to the notice, and "hopes to get (the issue) heard as soon as possible."

There are also requested recordings she is waiting to hear.

Jensen scheduled a hearing on the matter in Laurel County Circuit Court for July 11. Once that decision was made, the attorneys and the judge briefly spoke, and Jensen said "I'm not going to have people jump out on prisoners."

Just after 5:30 p.m. Dec. 20, 2010, Kentucky State Police from Post 10 in Harlan responded to Mills’ residence.

A delivery man had discovered Mills' beaten body and notified law enforcement.

The unnamed delivery driver apparently discovered Mills just minutes after she was robbed and murdered, according to Knox County Coroner Mike Blevins.

The three suspects received a two-count indictment in April 2012 from a Knox County grand jury.

In the first count, the three suspects each face the charge of murder, whether independently or in collaboration with others, “by striking Catherine Mills in the head and thereby causing her death.” The second count charges that, either together or in acting alone, the three robbed Mills by using physical force, which ultimately killed her.

Hoskins also faces a persistent felony offender charge.

At this time, Taylor's trial is slated for Sept. 8. All three defendants are expected to be tried in this murder separately.