Woodall denies several motions in Dunlap case
by Franklin Clark, Reporter -- fclark@cadizrecord.com
Jan 27, 2010 | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kevin Dunlap, the suspect in a Oct. 2008 Roaring Spring triple murder case, was deemed mentally fit to stand trial when it begins on Tuesday, Feb. 9, Circuit Judge C.A. “Woody” Woodall ruled Friday morning at the last pre-trial conference to be held before the trial.

Commonwealth’s Attorney G.L. Ovey called as a witness Amy Trivett, a psychiatrist at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in La Grange, Ky., where Dunlap was held late last year.

Trivette testified that she interviewed him and performed physical and psychological for two hours during his roughly month-long stay, and in her opinion he was fully aware of the trial proceedings against him and is competent to stand trial participate rationally in his defense.

Woodall also ruled that he will not recuse himself from the case, contrary to a motion that Gibson had filed. Gibson argued that since Woodall presided over divorce proceedings and a custody case involving Kristy Frensley, the woman who was left for dead, Woodall would have trouble being impartial.

“We do not allege that the court is, in fact, partial,” Gibson said, although he talked about the “standard for recusal,” and added that since this is case potentially involves the death penalty, there should be higher scrutiny.

Woodall said he didn’t know the Frensleys outside of the courtroom, and that his previous contact with them would not affect his judgment, as Dunlap is innocent until proven guilty.

Woodall also denied a motion by the defense to delay the trial. Gibson argued that while the prosecution has had 11 months to analyze the DNA evidence, the defense has had, at most, a month and a half, and needed more time.

“Enough is enough,” said Ovey, who argued that it’s not in anyone’s interest to delay the trial further.

Woodall said that while Dunlap is entitled to a fair trial, the defense needs to tell its experts “to hurry it up,” because he didn’t want to delay the trial, either.

Gibson also filed a motion to have Ovey make public any connections he might have with any of 130 potential jurors in the case. Ovey said that while he had no problem with being open about such potential information, it could be disclosed during jury selection, and Woodall denied the motion.

Another motion dealt with what Assistant Public Advocate Jason Pfeil, also on the defense, called “disgusting” photographs of the bodies during the autopsies. He said it wasn’t necessary to the prosecution’s case to show them to the jury.

Gibson also filed a motion to allow Dunlap to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan on his head to check for injuries or abnormalities. Ovey said he had no problem with the defense having more tests done on Dunlap as long as such tests don’t delay the trial.

Woodall allowed the defense the option of sending Dunlap for brain imaging examines before the trial to determine if he has a vascular abnormality in his right frontal lobe.

A radiologist who read a CT scan of the right frontal lobe of Dunlap’s brain made Trivett aware of two spots on the scan, Trivett said, adding that the spots could be an indication of arteriovenous malformation, commonly called AVM, but do not present a medical problem that requires immediate testing.

However, the defense argued AVM in the right frontal lobe could affect inhibitions and other behavior related to judgment.

Gibson said Kristy Frensley and her two daughters had reportedly suspected before the attacks they were being watched by someone who occasionally hid in a tree line behind their rural home.

Gibson argued that there is no evidence to suggest Dunlap was a suspect in stalking the family. The judge said he would rule on the admission of that evidence if the commonwealth decided it would be part of their case.

Hearings in the case have been held at the Livingston County Judicial Center in Smithland. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Carrie Ovey-Wiggins had earlier said that a change of venue was sought because of all of the pre-trial publicity, which she said could possibly be grounds for an appeal if Dunlap is convicted.

Kevin Wayne Dunlap, 37, of Hopkinsville, was charged in November last year with the Wednesday, Oct. 15, murder of Kayla Elayne Williams, 17, Kortney Lan McBurney-Frensley, 14, and Ethan Zane Frensley, 5, and the attempted murder of their mother, Kristy Frensley, as well as rape, kidnapping, burglary and tampering with evidence.

According to police, Dunlap murdered the three children raped and tried to kill the mother, left her for dead and then set the house on fire in order to destroy evidence and cover up his actions.
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