TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

March 3, 2014

Trial continued for 3 accused in murder

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

Three of the four people accused in the beating and strangulation murder of 27-year-old Barbourville resident Jonathan Ryan Foley have now had their March trial continued.

John Christopher Mills, 43, of Barbourville, and James Madison Wyatt, 35, and Lonnie J. Sturdivant, 29, both of Trosper, were all slated for a pretrial conference Thursday before Judge Tom Jensen in Knox County Circuit Court.

The fourth person charged in this case, George Marcum, 54, of Trosper, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in January and was sentenced to a decade behind bars.

Marcum is also expected to testify against the three remaining co-defendants.

During Thursday’s hearing, all three defense attorneys for the remaining defendants — Cotha Hudson, Jason Price and Deidra Douglas — joined in a motion to continue the case.

Douglas explained that the defense pushed for the continuance because a new witness had come forward — and those attorneys had only received that witness statement Wednesday.

“I don’t think the Commonwealth would have an objection,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele said.

Jensen granted the requested continuance.

The final pretrial for these defendants is slated for May 1 — on May 13 the jury trial is scheduled to begin.

All three defendants were remanded into custody after Thursday’s hearing.

Foley was 27 when he disappeared after a trip to the store and was reported missing Nov. 7, 2012, by his father, Charles Foley Jr., of Barbourville.

The victim lived with his father at the time of his disappearance and subsequent murder.

Four days later Foley’s body was recovered off Ed Matlock Place Road in the Trosper Community.

Barbourville Police Chief Mike Broughton said after the murder that Foley was killed the same day he went missing.

Barbourville Police Detective Steve Owens said surveillance video provided by Knox County Hospital was reviewed after Foley’s father located his son’s 2002 Ford F150 parked at CSC next door.

“There were two Ford trucks (in the surveillance video) matching the description of what we were looking for,” Owens said. They also sought Wyatt’s Ford truck. “The two trucks came in at the same time, leaving Foley’s truck parked there.”

Charles Foley Jr. said when he located the vehicle, it appeared as though it had been “four-wheeling.”

“There was mud and grass underneath,” Foley Jr. said. “...And the bottom was messed up. It looked like it’d been through a garden or a swamp.

“Even the parking lights were jammed up with mud.”

All four suspects in this case were indicted in December 2012. Mills, Marcum and Wyatt were named in the first count of the 11-count indictment, charging the three with beating Foley with a blunt object, then strangling him with a belt.

In the second count of the indictment, those same three are charged with first-degree robbery, as a death resulted during the course of committing the robbery against Foley.

The third count indicts all four with tampering with evidence by destroying, mutilating, concealing removing or altering physical evidence which could have been used during an official proceeding.

In counts four and five, Wyatt and Sturdivant are both charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Count six indicts Wyatt, Marcum and Mills on first-degree unlawful imprisonment by allegedly “restraining the liberty” of Foley. The same three are charged in count 7 with abuse of a corpse “by intentionally treating the body of Jonathan Ryan Foley in a way that would outrage ordinary family sensibilities.”

Count 8 charges Wyatt and Sturdivant in possession of a defaced firearm by owning a weapon which had the serial number removed.

Counts 9 and 10 charge Mills and Wyatt with being second-degree persistent felony offenders, and count 11 charges Sturdivant with first-degree persistent felony offender.

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