Charges against manslaughter suspect move forward after video prelim (copy)

In this screen capture, Kevin West participates in a preliminary hearing Friday regarding manslaughter, DUI, drug and other charges against him. Also pictured (top rail, from left) Marshall County Deputy Blake Maness, Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Foust, defense attorney Amy Harwood-Jackson and District Judge Jack Telle.

The Marshall County courtroom was empty except for the judge, but the hearing went off with hardly a hitch.

The defendant, a witness, the prosecutor and the defense attorney all participated via video from different locations, but the result was a standard one.

Marshall District Judge Jack Telle ruled enough evidence exists to send the manslaughter, DUI, drug and other charges against Kevin West to a grand jury.

But due to the restrictions currently imposed on the court system amid the COVOD-19 pandemic, a grand jury date could be months away.

In the video hearing, held via the Zoom application, Telle heard some of the evidence against West, accused of driving while intoxicated in the March 8 wreck that killed Randall Massey and Youlane Cathey, both of Marshall County.

The only witness at the hearing, Marshall County Deputy Blake Maness, told Telle he responded to the wreck on U.S. 68 near its intersection with Moors Camp Highway.

West’s vehicle had crossed into the westbound lane where it had apparently been T-boned by a vehicle driving west, Maness said.

Massey, West’s passenger, was trapped in the vehicle.

According to Maness, a witness said West’s vehicle had been driving east but had crossed the road as it approached a line of vehicles waiting to turn left at the intersection.

Maness said all four occupants of the second vehicle were taken to hospitals, and that Cathey was pronounced dead at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Maness said he spoke to West at the scene, but the suspect was incoherent and showed signs of impairment, including constricted pupils.

The deputy said he began to pat down West, and discovered a bag in his pocket containing drugs believed to be hydrocodone, clonazepam and naloxone, and a few grams of suspected methamphetamine.

The tests on those substances has not returned from the crime lab, nor has a blood kit, Maness said.

He said a search of West’s vehicle turned up various items of drug paraphernalia, some believed to be related to drug trafficking.

West faces two counts each of second-degree manslaughter and first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, as well as one count each of second-degree assault, operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, careless driving, buying or possessing drug paraphernalia and third-degree possession of a controlled substance.

He initially faced two other charges of second-degree assault, regarding two other occupants of the second vehicle, but medical information for them was not available.

Marshall County Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Foust said those charges could be brought directly to a grand jury when their statuses become known.

West is currently being held on two cash bonds totaling $300,000, Foust said.