TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Citizens arrived at the Whitley County Circuit Courtroom Thursday morning prepared for the possibility of jury duty.
The case at hand was against William E. Sulfridge, 41, of Williamsburg, who faces charges of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of tampering with evidence in the April 2010 shooting death of 62-year-old Dennis Russell Meadors.
Meadors was a candidate for constable in Whitley County.
Sulfridge was in court Thursday with family members at his side.
At 9:30 a.m., Circuit Court Clerk Gary Barton called the numbers of those in the jury pool.
Once Judge Paul K. Winchester, Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Trimble, and Sulfridge’s attorney Wayne Shepherd were all in the courtroom, Trimble asked to approach the bench.
Trimble and Shepherd had been out of the room for some time before court was in session.
The three men then met at the bench and entered into a “silent conference.”
After a few minutes, it was over.
“The (trial) is not going to (happen) at this time,” Winchester announced.
WIth that, by 9:45 a.m., the gallery was empty.
Shepherd said after Sulfridge and his family left that the case “was continued due to a potential conflict for the judge.”
He explained that Winchester was a prosecuting attorney in this case when the charges were first levied.
“If it creates a conflict or creates the appearance of a conflict, then (it could be bad) for a case,” Shepherd said.
He added that if the conflict could not be resolved, the judge may have to ultimately recuse himself from the case.
That decision could come during the next scheduled hearing on this case, slated for Sept. 16.
Trimble explained that during a jury deliberation Wednesday night, he was having casual conversation with Winchester when the judge asked what was on the docket for Thursday.
Trimble said he told Winchester, who recalled a similar case that he had begun prosecuting as the county attorney.
It turned out to be the same case.
Sulfridge is currently on parole for a separate charge that stemmed from the same alleged incident.
In February, a plea agreement was reached with Sulfridge concerning one charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Meadors was killed in April 2010 by a single gunshot wound to the back while he and Sulfridge were turkey hunting near Concord Church Road in Whitley County.
The deadly bullet was from a 12-gauge shotgun.