Courts, law enforcement look to send strong statement with murder charges
Sep 27, 2011 | 4688 views | 0 0 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By Venita Fritz

Tribune-Courier General Manager

SHARPE – Two Marshall Countians are dead following an accident early Saturday morning on U.S. Hwy 68 near Needmore Road in Palma.

Michael K. Williams, 27, of Mayfield, was traveling east on 68 at around 3:30 a.m. Saturday when he lost control of his vehicle in a curve, ran off the roadway and overturned before striking a utility pole.

Killed in the accident were 21-year-old Kaytlin E. Lamb and 34-year-old Michael Hoy, Jr., both of Benton. Billy W. Humphrey of Paducah and Monica Draffen of Benton received injuries. Williams was not injured in the accident.

Williams was in Marshall County District Court Monday, charged with two counts of murder, one count of assault, one count of wanton endangerment, driving under the influence second offense and driving on a suspended license.

A not guilty plea was entered on Williams’ behalf and a preliminary hearing was set for October 12 in district court.

Williams is the second driver involved in a fatal crash, allegedly under the influence to be charged with murder in Marshall County in the past two months. In August, 18-year-old Tiffany Pittman was charged with murder after hitting Stephen Harper head on near Sharpe. Sheriff’s Deputies say Pittman was under the influence after consuming alcoholic energy drinks. Pittman remains in the Marshall County jail.

Earlier this year, Brad Chandler of Marshall County plead guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter, after originally being charged with murder in the death of Charlie Chancellor. Chandler was found to be intoxicated at the time of an accident that led to the death of Charlie Chancellor.

Bobby Vick, of Benton also accepted an amended charge of second degree manslaughter, from murder in the November 2010 death of 42-year-old Harry Swift. He received a ten year jail sentence earlier this year.

Commonwealth Attorney Mark Blankenship noted grand juries in Marshall County have not hesitated in recommending murder charges for DUI related deaths. In the cases of Chandler and Vick both were plead down, but Blankenship noted that in the case of Tiffany Pittman, he believes it is time to get the community’s input by taking the case to jury.

“We are concerned there are a rash of these types of deaths and we need to let a jury take a look at it,” said Blankenship. In the Pittman case, Harper was in his vehicle, sober and on his way to work. He had nothing to do with the accident. In the accident over the weekend it appears a group who had been partying were in the car with the driver willingly.”

Blankenship noted that in Kentucky statute there are two types of murder, one being the intentional killing of another human being, the second being wanton murder. Blankenship explained wanton murder as conduct that amounts to an extreme indifference for the value of human life that results in death.

“If you look at these types of cases statewide I think you will see the average conviction is manslaughter,” he said.

Detective Matt Hilbrecht with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department said his office’s goal is to send the strongest possible statement about drinking and driving.

“A murder charge is obviously the strongest statement we can make and we hope to convey the message as best we can that we will not tolerate it. We see so much pain and heartache for families and we want to put a stop to it in any way we can.” said Hilbrecht.
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