, Corbin, KY

February 19, 2014

William Cox trial begins today

Corbin man accused of 2012 shooting death of Ryan Abner, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

A jury was finally seated Tuesday afternoon for the trial of a Corbin man accused of the 2012 shooting death of 21-year-old Ryan Abner.

The trial begins today.

William C. Cox, 56, appeared in Whitley County Circuit Court with his attorney, David Hoskins, and at 10 a.m. the jury selection process began.

However, by 11:30 a.m., both Hoskins and Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Trimble grew concerned with seating a jury.

Judge Paul Winchester called for a recess so the circuit clerk’s office could contact members of the district court’s jury pool to participate in selection proceedings.

At 1 p.m., the process continued with the additions to the jury pool — and by 3 p.m. a jury of 12 with one alternate was seated.

The nine-man, four-woman jury — as well as potential witnesses — were asked by Winchester to return to court this morning at 8:30 a.m. for the trial to begin.

Based on questions asked during the jury pool review, the case is not about the shooting — exactly.

“Bill Cox shot Ryan Abner and killed him — that’s not what you have to decide,” Hoskins said. “What does the law say about all circumstances?”

Hoskins continued his questioning of potential jurors along this line.

“You need to know this case involves an admission that (Cox) shot this young man with a gun,” Hoskins said, implying that self-defense will likely be Hoskins’ basis for argument against Cox’s charge of murder.

Trimble also alluded to that possibly being Hoskins’ defense during jury pool questioning.

It remains unclear at this point whether Cox will testify in his own defense. Hoskins told the jury pool a strategy concerning that had yet to be addressed.

It was also learned through both Hoskins’ and Trimble’s questioning that the defense agreed with Trimble concerning drugs found in the victim’s system during autopsy.

“The autopsy (shows) Abner had drugs in his system,” Trimble told the jury pool, adding Abner’s family members were prepared to testify about the 21-year-old’s drug problems.

“Several different kinds of drugs were found in Mr. Abner’s system at autopsy,” Hoskins agreed.

Trimble also noted Tuesday that testimony heard during this trial would have “very absolute” conflicts between witnesses.

Cox was arrested in August 2012 after detectives with the Corbin Police Department responded to a report of shots fired at a residence in the Forest Hills neighborhood.  

When detectives Rusty Hedrick and Bill Rose arrived at the Forest Circle Drive residence, Cox allegedly told detectives he had shot Abner, but was unsure whether he was alive or dead.

Cox also allegedly fired several shots from a 40-caliber Glock into Abner’s Chevrolet SUV, in which Abner’s juvenile girlfriend, also Cox’s daughter, was seated with her and Abner’s child.

Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley pronounced Ryan Abner dead at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds at close range.

Cox remains jailed in the Whitley County Detention Center under a $250,000 cash bond. He also faces two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly firing the shots into Abner’s SUV.