In the motion, Gibson argues that Trigg Circuit Judge C.A. “Woody” Woodall III, who presided over the case, erred by denying his motion to have Woodall recuse himself, as he had resided over divorce proceedings involving Kristy Frensley, and also erred in accepting “an involuntary and unknowing plea of guilty from an incompetent defendant.”
The judge also made a mistake in not treating Dunlap’s plea as a plea of guilty but mentally ill, Gibson stated.
Gibson also brought up what he called the court’s error in denying defense challenges of prospective jurors, and said that the court made a mistake in denying defense motions for a mistrial.
Finally, Gibson said the court overruled “defense-tendered instructions, and defense objections to the Court’s tendered instructions,” which he said was another mistake.
Trigg County Commonwealth’s Attorney G.L. Ovey, who prosecuted the case, said that the Commonwealth opposes the motion, said a written response would be available by Tuesday. However, it wasn’t available at press time.
Woodall said the points brought up were addressed before or during the trial, and called them a routine procedure “that any good defense attorney” will file in cases like the one in question.
Dunlap plead guilty to all 14 charges, including three capital murder charges and three capital kidnapping charges as well as charges of rape and destruction of evidence, at a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 9, the day before jury selection began.
After six days of jury selection and a trial that lasted five days, the jury sentenced Dunlap to death on all three murder and all three kidnapping charges. Dunlap is set to be formally sentenced at 1 p.m. on Friday, March 19. The motion in question will be ruled on during that hearing.
Dunlap has waived his right for a jury to sentence him for the other charges, so the court will decide his sentence for the non-capital charges at a sentencing hearing on March 19 at the Livingston County Courthouse.
Dunlap, 37, of Hopkinsville, was charged in November 2008 with the Wednesday, Oct. 15, attempted murder of Kristy Frensley and the murder of her three children – Kayla Elayne Williams, 17, Kortney Lan Frensley, 14, and Ethan Zane Frensley, 5 – as well as rape, kidnapping, burglary and tampering with evidence.
According to police reports, 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.
The trial and 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.
Gibson and Jason Pfeil, who is also representing Dunlap, could not be reached for comment at press time.