Dunlap still faces death penalty in murder trial
by Franklin Clark, Reporter -- fclark@cadizrecord.com
Dec 23, 2009 | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SMITHLAND – Judge C.A. “Woody” Woodall of the 56th circuit denied a motion to exclude the death penalty in the case of Kevin Dunlap, the suspect in the Oct. 2008 Roaring Spring triple murder case, in a pre-trial motion hearing held Friday morning at the Livingston County Justice Center in Smithland.

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 and raped and tried to kill their mother, left her for dead and then set the house on fire in order to destroy evidence and cover up his actions.

During the roughly 30-minute hearing, Dunlap’s defense attorney, James Gibson, argued that the death penalty should not be considered because of a recent Kentucky Supreme Court ruling. Woodall disagreed and denied the motion.

Woodall also ruled that an evidentiary hearing can be held during jury selection to determine if Frensley will be allowed to identify who attacked her during the Tuesday, Feb. 9, trial.

Gibson had filed a motion to suppress in-court identification of the accused attacker by Kristy Frensley, one of the victims in the case. Gibson said that during two photo line-ups held by the Kentucky State Police, she didn’t make any selection of any suspect.

Woodall also ultimately decided that the license plate from Dunlap’s Chevrolet pickup truck can be entered as evidence in the case.

Gibson had argued that since there was initially only a partial license plate number to go on, more suspects should have been taken in during the investigation, and called the license plate search “improper.”

Trigg County Commonwealth’s Attorney G.L. Ovey stated that “all roads led to” Dunlap, and said that Gibson’s argument was “illogical” because it suggested that police shouldn’t be able to explore and investigate single leads if the lead singles out one suspect.

Woodall said that although Dunlap’s competency evaluation has been completed, the results are not yet back. Gibson said the results would probably come back in the next two weeks. The competency hearing, which will be the final pre-trial hearing before the trial, will take place Friday, Jan. 22, at the Livingston County Justice Center at 9 a.m.

Dunlap, who wasn’t present at the last pre-trial conference, was held at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in La Grange, Ky., where he was taken in mid-November. He has otherwise been held in Christian County.

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.
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