, Corbin, KY

March 7, 2013

Lowe pleads not guilty in leaving four-year-old boy at restaurant

White pleads guilty in Rockcastle case

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble

Staff writer

A Corbin man has entered a guilty plea in the 2011 death of his sister from a traffic accident in Rockcastle County.

As part of a motion to enter the plea on Monday in Rockcastle Circuit Court, Clyde N. White, 79, pleaded guilty but mentally ill to 2nd degree manslaughter by Alford plea in the death of his sister, Dorothy “Dot” Whitaker. Whitaker was 83 years old at the time of her death.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddy Montgomery confirmed the agreement Wednesday in a phone interview from his office in Somerset, adding the Commonwealth was recommending a 10-year sentence for White.

An Alford plea means the criminal defendant does not admit the act, but admits the prosecutor could likely prove the charge. It allows the defendant to plead guilty even while unable or unwilling to admit guilt.

Formal sentencing for White is set for Friday, April 26 at 10 a.m. by Circuit Judge David Tapp, in Rockcastle Circuit Court in Mount Vernon.

According to Kentucky State Police, White reportedly chased and rammed a van driven by his brother, Lawrence White of Lexington several times on Aug. 29, 2011. Police said the chase caused Lawrence White to lose control of his van and crash into a utility truck.

Whitaker was taken by air to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, where she later died of her injuries. Lawrence White was taken to a hospital by ambulance.

The chase began in the southbound lanes of I-75, when Clyde White was chasing Lawrence White, who was driving the van that was carrying Whitaker. They left I-75 at the Renfro Valley exit, with the chase continuing along KY 461 south towards Pulaski County.

At the time, State Police Trooper Don Trosper said that Clyde White was reported as ramming his van into his brother’s van at speeds reportedly exceeding 100 miles per hour.

Police said as he neared the intersection of U.S. 150 west of Mount Vernon, Clyde White forced his brother’s van into a white utility van that was parked on the southbound shoulder of the road. Clyde White fled the scene and crashed into a tractor-trailer owned by Big G. Express of Shelbyville, Tenn. The tractor-trailer remained in operation. After crashing into the rig, Clyde White made a U-turn and drove back to the scene of the collision where his brother’s van was. He was stopped by KSP Trooper Ryan Loudermilk, who arrested Clyde White.

Clyde White remains jailed in the Rockcastle County Detention Center.

In another case, the grandmother accused of leaving a four-year-old boy at a Corbin restaurant pleaded not guilty to endangering the welfare of a minor Tuesday.

Joanne Knuckles Lowe, 62, of Chestnut Road in Corbin, made the plea in Whitley District Court in Corbin. She has legal custody of the child.

Her pretrial conference is set for Tuesday, March 19 at 1 p.m, also at the district court.

Lowe was not arrested, but cited by Corbin Police on Feb. 21 after they questioned her about a situation where police said she had left her grandson at McDonald’s on the Cumberland Falls Highway (U.S. 25W) that afternoon. She, her grandson and a group of family members went to the restaurant and left around 3:55 p.m. According to police, Lowe had thought her grandson had gotten into a vehicle with the rest of the family.

Restaurant employees called Corbin police at 4 p.m., saying they found the boy wandering around the property and the parking lot, with his jacket off. A police officer went to the restaurant to pick up the boy, who was safe, and took him to police headquarters.

The public was notified by police about the boy’s disappearance on the City of Corbin’s Facebook page and through TV stations in Lexington. The search for the boy’s parents went on for three hours, before police were able to locate Lowe.