KNOX COUNTY – Four people charged in connection to a December 2018 single-vehicle crash that killed one person were arraigned Friday, with two of the four individuals also being arrested following the proceedings.
Joshua D. Taylor, 21, of Williamsburg; Amber Hacker, 21, of Williamsburg; Dean Taylor, 45, of Barbourville; and Melinda Kay Mills (AKA Melinda Mills Smith), 47, of Barbourville; all appeared together in Knox Circuit Court, where not guilty pleas were entered on each of their behalves. Joshua Taylor faces charges of murder, three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, tampering with physical evidence and falsely reporting an incident. Hacker, Dean Taylor and Mills each faces charges of tampering with physical evidence and falsely reporting an incident.
During Friday’s proceedings, prosecutors noted that all four individuals currently had bench warrants for their arrest, but only Mills had been placed in custody since being indicted last month. Defense attorneys asked that in lieu of imposing the warrants on Joshua Taylor, Hacker and Dean Taylor to amend their bond amounts to help prevent them from being jailed.
Judge Michael Caperton agreed to reduce bonds for Hacker, Dean Taylor and Mills from $5,000 cash to $10,000 fully secured with specific conditions. In addition, Mills will be required to sign up for home incarceration upon release from jail if she posts bond.
Joshua Taylor’s bond, however, remained unchanged at $50,000 cash. He was then arrested and taken into custody by court bailiffs.
Despite being allowed a reduced bond, Dean Taylor was ordered by the court to undergo a drug test due to his demeanor during the proceedings, which he allegedly failed. He was also arrested.
A pretrial conference has been set for all four individuals for July 2 at 1 p.m.
On Dec. 18, 2018, Kentucky State Police Post 10 received a request through Knox County Dispatch to assist in a fatal crash along KY 11 near Hammons Fork. After a preliminary investigation, police were told that Hacker had been operating the motor vehicle when she crossed the center line and struck a guardrail before traveling back across the roadway and colliding with a rock embankment. The vehicle then overturned before coming to rest on its top on the roadway.
However, upon further investigation, police determined that Joshua Taylor had allegedly been operating the vehicle at the time of the crash and that he was also under the influence of intoxicants when the crash occurred. In addition, police located alcoholic beverage containers in a nearby wooded area that were allegedly placed there by Joshua Taylor, Hacker, Dean Taylor and Mills in an attempt to hide evidence.
One passenger, identified as Dale Taylor, 45, of Barbourville, was pronounced dead at the scene.
None of the occupants were reportedly wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
The four individuals were indicted May 24 by a Knox County grand jury, formally charging them in connection to the incident.