Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Police chase suspect already on probation from other charges

A Sebree man exchange shots with police and led law enforcement officers on a high speed chase from Clay to Dixon last Tuesday night that ended when the suspect came to a roadblock set by Webster County Sheriff Frankie Springfield and Deputy Mitch Townsend.
At approximately 6:10 p.m. on Tuesday February 25, 2014, Kentucky State Police Post 2 received a call for assistance from the Webster County Sheriff’s Department and the Clay Police Department for a complaint that shots were fired into a residence in Clay, KY.
Upon the arrival of law enforcement, the perpetrator returned to the residence, striking Deputy Scott Starkey with his vehicle and firing additional shots into the residence. At this time, officers discharged their firearms at the perpetrator, striking his vehicle.
The suspect then fled the scene, leading State Troopers and Clay Police Chief Chris Evitts on a chase along highway 132 with speeds reaching 80 to 100 mph. According to Sheriff Springfield at some point during the chase one of the tires on the car had gone flat, but that did not slow the suspect.
Sheriff Springfield and Deputy Mitch Townsend, who had been monitoring the chase by radio used their cruisers to block the road near Dixon. When the chase reached their position the suspect had no other choice but to stop.
“He tossed his weapon during the chase, otherwise things could have gone very differently,” Springfield said.
According to Springfield the suspect sat in his vehicle for several minutes before obeying law enforcement instructions to exit his vehicle, at which time he was taken into custody.
The perpetrator, Tommy R. Branson, age 61, of Sebree, was charged with the following:
•4 counts of “Attempted Murder.”
•1 count of “Attempted Murder (Police Officer).”
•1 count of “Assault-1st Degree.”
•1 count of “Wanton Endangerment-1st Degree.”
•1 count of “Criminal Mischief-1st Degree.”
•1 count of “Tampering with Physical Evidence.”
•1 count of “Fleeing/Evading Police-1st Degree.”

This is the fourth time that Branson has had the attention of law enforcement during the last year.
He was arrested and charged with arson following a fire on Starl Shelton Road near Sebree. On Tuesday, October 8, 2013 Branson appeared before a Webster County Grand Jury for that charge. The jury requested the matter be dismissed because “insufficient evidence was presented to warrant an indictment.”
On January 14, 2014 Branson once again appeared in the Webster County Court House, this time for three separate incidents.
The first was a 3rd Degree Criminal Trespassing Charge. Prosecution in that case was deferred for two years during pretrial conference on the grounds that Branson not have any contact with the property owner or committee any further offenses.
The second charge was 3rd Degree Criminal Mischief. At 3:00 p.m. on October 4, 2013, according to the Sheriff’s report, Branson approached a vehicle parked in the vicinity of Dixon Bank and smashed it’s windshield in with a shovel.
Branson was assessed a $100 fine, plus given 90 days in jail, which was probated for two years as long as Branson did not committee any other offences.
The Third charge was 1st Degree Wanton Endangerment stemming from an incident that happened on October 22, 2013 at approximately 7:00 p.m.  The report from the Sheriff’s Department said that Branson pulled up behind a stopped vehicle at the stoplight in Dixon. He then drove forward until he made contact with the other vehicle, pushing it into oncoming traffic. When the oncoming car managed to pass without incident, Branson fled the scene.
Branson was assessed a $100 fine and given 365 days jail time, which was probated on grounds that he complete one year of treatment at the Boulware Center in Owensboro, have no contact with the driver of the other vehicle and that he pay $2,414.14 restitution to that person.

Chief Officer of the Providence Code Enforcement Board resigns

Providence Council held a routine regular session Monday night in the council chambers with all members present.
The council accepted the resignation of Gary Myrick, Chief Officer of the Code Enforcement Board. Myrick had severed in the capacity since January 2008. He drew praise from Mayor Eddie Gooch for a “job well done”.
“We certainly want to thank Gary for an outstanding job. His hard work and expertise has certainly been appreciated and has definitely made a huge difference in the beautification of Providence,” noted Mayor Eddie Gooch. “Gary will certainly be missed.”
City officials are currently accepting applications for the part-time postion that will be vacated by Myrick.
In other business, the annual city audit was postponed due to inclimate weather and will be presented at the March 17 meeting.
Providence Fire Chief Brad Curry informed council members that the new ambulance should be delivered next week. It will be the newest of the fleet of two ambulances, with the city purchasing a new ambulance every five years.
In final business, Councilman Scott Frederick noted that he had received complaints about multiple thefts on Thompson Street. After a brief discussion, Mayor Gooch said the city would increase police patrols of the area.
The council then adjourned to executive session for the dicussion of possible litigation, returning to regular session with no action to report.

8ft snake found in Webster County

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
A tip to The Journal-Enterprise led to a big discovery for Fish and Wildlife Officer Todd Jones last week. A very big discovery. 
On Wednesday of last week a reader contacted The Journal-Enterprise office to report seeing the body of a very large snake along side highway 493 in rural Webster County. I contacted Jones who met me at the location.
“It’s definitely an exotic snake,” he said after examining the carcass. “It was definitely raised in captivity, and probably died in captivity.”
At the scene Jones said the snake looked to him like a boa constrictor, but said he would let the professionals make a positive identification. After taking a few pictures to send to herpetologist John MacGregor of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Jones retrieved a tape measure from his truck to measure the animal. The snake measured in right at eight feet in length.
“These boas are native to the tropical parts of Central and South America and could not survive the cold temperatures we have had this winter,” said MacGregor. “Even in captivity they are susceptible to lethal respiratory infections if exposed to cold temperatures.”
“Our fish and wildlife laws only cover native wildlife,” Jones said. “You have to have a permit if you want to keep a native animal like a deer or a raccoon. You don’t on an exotic animal.”
Jones said that some cities and counties have adopted ordinances governing the keeping of dangerous exotic animals, but none in Webster County.
“You would really be surprised to see what some people have in their houses,” he said as he examined the snake. “An animal like this could do some major damage if it was hungry or felt threatened. Especially to a small child.”
Jones also said that he believes reptile owners are not sure what to with their exotic pet when it dies. He believed that this was part of the reason for this snake appearing on the side of the road.
“People get these snakes out of state and when they die, suddenly they get scared because they don’t know what the local laws are,” explained Jones.
MacGregor said that the proper means of disposing of a dead body is much the same as you would do for any other pet.
“I suppose it could be buried in the back yard like any other deceased pet, or put out with the trash to eventually be taken to a landfill,” he said. “A large dead snake is really not much different from a large dead dog, or a load of decaying meat in the dumpster behind a super market.”
Any report of a potentially dangerous snake in Webster County automatically catches the attention of MacGregor.
“I am always interested in reptile reports from Webster County, especially if they are backed up by photographs so I can verify identification,” he said. “Believe it or not, we have no valid records for any venomous snakes in Webster County since the time of W. D. Funkhouser’s “Wild Life in Kentucky” (published in 1925).  Funkhouser reported at least one Copperhead from Webster County but had no records of Cottonmouths or Timber Rattlesnakes from there.”
All three of these venomous snakes are confirmed in Hopkins County.  
“Timber Rattlesnakes seem to be extremely rare there (1 verified observation in the eastern part of Hopkins County), Cottonmouths are common in a few places (Tradewater River, Clear Creek, and Pond River) but in general have a very restricted range in Hopkins, and only the Copperhead seems widespread in the area,” MacGregor said. “Most reports I get of “Water Moccasins” in the Western Coal Field region turn out to be some type of harmless water snake.  The Copperbelly Water Snake, Diamondback Water Snake, and Midland Water Snake all occur in Webster County and are often mistaken for Cottonmouths.”

Some county voters to be in new district for May primary

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
Some residents of Webster County will find themselves in new magisterial districts when the May primary rolls around, forcing them to travel a lot further to reach a voting booth.
County Clerk Valerie Newell reports that population shifts in a few areas of the county mandated that the changes be made, even if the voters in those areas don’t like it.
“KRs 67.045 requires that after each US Census is conducted the county must initiate reapportionment proceedings in May of the first year following the census and establish precinct boundaries,” Newell said in a letter to residents who will be redistricted.
Residents of the A102 South Dixon district and the B105 Slaughters district will now find themselves in one of the two Providence Districts. 
The North Providence district currently has 655 registered voters. The changes will add an additional 195 voters, while the South Providence district will add 75 residents to it’s 870 voters. Of those voters, 70 will be moved from the South Dixon district, with another 200 being moved from the Slaughters area.
The area of South Dixon being moved to North Providence will be all residents below a line that starts where Slover Creek Road crosses Slover Creek; then follows highway 270 east to US41A; then follows Villines Road to Lisman Mount Myria Road and finaly ends where Vanderburg Lisman Road crosses over Slover Creek in the east.
North Providence will also be adding a large section of the Slaughter’s magisterial district. That section is within a line that follows Catesville Providence Road east to 138; follows 138 to Old Dixon-Slaughers Road and then follows that road until it intersects highway 120. Highway 120 serves as the dividing point between  North and South Providence.
South Providence’s new area will include everything south of 120 from highway 1069 west.

Webster County man charge with murder in Henderson

A Webster County man was arrested on Monday in connection with the Saturday night death of a man at Double Dukes Saloon in Henderson.
Robert R. Brantley, 38 of Sebree, was arrested Monday and charged with murder for the Saturday night death of a man at Double Dukes Saloon in Henderson. Henderson Police say the victim was Adam W. Hogan, 34 of Uniontown, KY.
The Henderson Police Department said that Brantley had been working as a security guard at Double Dukes.  The death  occurred when Double Dukes personnel were removing Hogan from the bar area. Witness statements and evidence obtained from the autopsy lead to the murder charge.
Brantley is housed at the Henderson County Detention Center.
The investigation is continuing and authorities say that other charges are possible.  Detectives are requesting that any witnesses from the night of the incident, whom they have not spoken to, contact them at the Henderson Police Department along with anyone who may have recorded the incident on a smartphone.