, Corbin, KY

December 18, 2013

Marcum enters plea agreement

One of four charged in strangulation, beating murder, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

One of four defendants facing charges in the November 2012 beating and strangulation murder of Barbourville resident Jonathan Ryan Foley has now entered into a plea agreement.

George Marcum, 54, of Trosper, took the Commonwealth’s attorney’s offer of reduced charges — providing that if necessary, he “truthfully” testify during the expected trial of his three co-defendants.

According to the Knox County Circuit Court clerk’s office, those remaining defendants — John Christopher Mills, 42, of Barbourville, Lonnie Sturdivant, 28, of Trosper, and James Wyatt, 35, of Trosper — are expected to go to trial together March 17.

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.

According to the plea agreement, Marcum pleaded guilty to two counts on the multi-count indictment — and will likely receive a 10-year sentence for those charges. According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele, Marcum pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and facilitation to commit murder — each charge brings a 5-year sentence to the table, to be served consecutively.

The latter charge of facilitation to commit murder comes after Marcum pleaded guilty to aiding Wyatt and Mills in murdering Foley by providing the means and/or opportunity for the killing, according to the motion, to amend the charges.

Marcum’s sentencing hearing is slated for Jan. 3 — where the remaining charges against him will likely be dismissed.

Barbourville Police Chief Mike Broughton said last November 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, the 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.

All four remain in custody.