Dunlap plead guilty on Tuesday, Feb. 9, to all 14 charges springing from the Oct. 15, 2008, Roaring Springs incident in which he raped and tried to kill Kristy Frensley, killed her three children and burned their house down.
Trigg County Commonwealth’s Attorney G.L. Ovey said in his closing statement that if ever there was a crime that deserved the death penalty, the murders of Kayla Elayne Williams, 17, Kortney Lan Frensley, 14, and Ethan Zane Frensley, 5, would be it.
Ovey also showed pictures of the three victims and implored the jury not to forget that the case is about them.
Dunlap’s defense attorney James Gibson said he would be for the death penalty if it would bring the victims back to life. He also reiterated what he first said in his opening statement when he asked the jury to give Dunlap life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Life in prison, Gibson added, might turn out to be a worse punishment than death by lethal injection, as Dunlap would be forced to live for the rest of his life with what he has done.
Gibson also said that the responsibility would lie solely with the jury if, in the future, it was found that the vascular abnormality, the hole in Dunlap’s right frontal lobe the size of a ping pong ball, caused him to lose impulse control, which he said would be a mitigating factor.
Both Ovey and Woodall thanked the jury for their service, although Woodall told jurors that “a simple thank you is totally inadequate.”
Woodall also commented that he is glad the case is over, and added that he hopes this case is the worst one he ever has to preside over. Although he didn’t foresee Dunlap’s guilty plea, the judge said there were “no bombshells” to the case.
At 10:56 a.m., the jury started their deliberation, and at 1:10 p.m. they returned to the courtroom to ask about the first time Dunlap was seen at the Frensley residence. Woodall, after a conference with counsels, said that he had been first seen there a week before the murders, asking if they knew where someone else lived, as Kristy Frensley had testified the week before.
The jury went back to deliberate again at 1:14 p.m. and returned to the court to hand down death sentences for all six capital charges at 1:51 p.m.
Ovey said that while he was glad to have won what he called a tough case, it isn’t the time for elation. He also likened Dunlap’s defense strategy to a Hail Mary pass.
Kayla Williams’s father Doug Williams said he was pleased with the verdict, and stated that he “never wants him (Dunlap) to walk the streets again.” He added that he has “been living day by day” since the murders took place
Dunlap has waived his right for a jury to sentence him for the other charges, so the court will decide his sentence for those charges at a sentencing hearing at 1 p.m. on Friday, March 19, at Livingston County Courthouse.
Williams said that if the prosecution allows it, he will have a statement that he wants to read to Dunlap at that sentencing hearing, and that he might send it to the media if he isn’t allowed. Woodall said he didn’t think him reading that statement would be a problem.
Dunlap was turned over the state Department of Corrections taken to the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville after the court was adjourned. He will remain under observation until he is formally sentenced on March 19.
After his formal sentencing, Dunlap will be moved to death row to await his execution by lethal injection.