Murder, manslaughter cases set for trial, new hearings

Nita Johnson, The Sentinel Echo, London, Ky.
·5 min read

Mar. 31—A man charged with the March 2017 death of his girlfriend was set for jury trial in August.

Jeffrey Scott Taylor, 51, of Sasser Road in London, appeared before Laurel Circuit Judge Michael Caperton on March 17, a date in which a trial date was set. Taylor is charged with hitting Shannon Vaughn Saylor in the head with a rock at his home during an argument, causing her death. He and another man then transported her body to an isolated wooded area in Clay County.

Saylor was later reported missing by family and upon questioning by investigating officers, the two men admitted their roles in Saylor's disappearance and death and led officers to the spot where her body had been discarded. Taylor has remained incarcerated since his arrest on March 30, 2017. He is held under $300,000 cash bond on charges of murder, tampering with physical evidence and first-degree persistent felony offender.

Caperton set Taylor's trial date for August 9 and 10, with a final pretrial conference set for July 15.

A couple who killed her mother and his mother-in-law with whom they resided were also set for a trial in August.

Joseph Craig McFadden, 34, and Christie Elizabeth McFadden, 30, of Thoroughbred Trail in Corbin, are charged with the June 2018 death of 58-year-old Sherry Rose. Rose was reported missing by her co-workers, which launched an investigation in which blood matching Rose's was found outside the home. Neighbors reported seeing the McFaddens using Rose's vehicle and carrying in cleaning supplies and forensic evidence revealed that Rose's throat was slashed with a knife with the killer standing behind her.

Further investigation led police to arrest the McFaddens in the murder, but not before they evaded police for several days. Once captured, it was learned that the couple reportedly put Rose's body into a suitcase and took it to another location in Laurel County, with Cody Allan Hinkle and Michael Hinkle transferring Rose's body into their vehicle and taking it to an isolated area in Clay County. Rose's vehicle was also found abandoned.

All four were arrested and charged in the crime. The McFaddens face numerous charges including murder, fleeing police, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse. The Hinkles are charged with tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse. All four were set for a trial date of Aug. 11 and 12.

A woman charged with supplying illicit drugs to another woman and inevitably causing her overdose death was set for a jury trial in September.

Bridgette Renea Merritt, 42, of Trussville, Alabama, is charged with the Sept. 11, 2020 death of a 41-year-old woman. Merritt was arrested after police and paramedics were called to a Laurel County residence on Nu Way Trail for an overdose. Merritt was jailed for trafficking fentanyl and heroin and that she had supplied the drugs to the female, who died at the scene. After toxicology tests were completed, Merritt — who was still in jail for the drug-related charges — was additionally charged with second-degree manslaughter.

Her trial date was set for Sept. 8.

Other cases involving murder and manslaughter were also in court over the past week. Those were:

—Douglas Earl Paul Bailey, 44, who is charged with shooting his nephew on Dec. 22, is set for another pretrial conference on May 19. The two men argued at a home off Old KY 30, with 28-year-old Michael Bailey suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. He was flown to the University of Kentucky Medical Center, where he later died.

Douglas Bailey was initially charged with first-degree assault but that charge was upgraded to murder after the victim died of his injuries. A prior felony conviction for burglary in 2016 added a second-degree persistent felony offender charge.

Bailey's next court appearance is set for May 19.

—Jordan Dakota Obenauer, 25, of Woolum, Ky., is set for a pretrial hearing on July 14. He is charged with the murder of Summer Disney on Oct. 27, 2019 at which time he is accused of operating an ATV while under the influence of intoxicants, wrecking the ATV and causing Disney's death.

—Joseph Lee Benge, 41, of Tom Cat Trail in London, will appear before Laurel Circuit Judge Michael Caperton on July 14 on two charges of murder and first-degree robbery stemming from the Sept. 15 shooting deaths of his parents, Johnny and Mary Benge. During the investigation, it was discovered that the younger Benge had taken money belonging to the church where his parents pastored before leaving the scene. He was located in western Kentucky the following day and returned to London where he was charged with their deaths.

—James Thomas Morgan Jr., 57, of Lovelace Subdivision in London, is set for a pretrial conference on July 14 on the charge of murder of his stepson, 31-year-old Matthew Tosh on Aug. 25. The shooting incident took place during a verbal argument between the two men at their home.

—Timothy Scott Hammons, 55, and Ethan Hammons, 22, of Sinking Creek Road in London, are both charged with first-degree manslaughter of Terry Hammons on Aug. 24. Timothy Hammons and his son Ethan reportedly beat Terry Hammons during an argument at Timothy Hammons' home. Terry was taken to Lexington for treatment of serious injuries, but returned to a family member's home two days later. The following morning he was found dead in the relative's home, from internal injuries inflicted during the fight. Timothy Hammons and Terry Hammons were brothers. The Hammons' are now set for another court appearance on April 26.

—Edward Dale Brewer, 42, of Lexington, is charged with the July 2 murder of James Mays by cutting his throat. Mays' body was discovered near the amphitheater in Levi Jackson Park by campers in the area. Brewer was apprehended two days later and charged with Mays' murder. He is set for another pretrial conference on May 24. During his hearing last week, prosecutors requested a date in May for another court appearance, as they are awaiting DNA evidence from the state forensic lab.