Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks II said he has an ethical responsibility to notify defendants in cases that former Letcher County Sheriff ’s Deputy Brian Damron served as lead investigator.
“There are many cases (in which) Brian is a potential witness,” said Banks.
Soon after Letcher County Sheriff Danny Webb announced the firing of Damron in January, Banks said he wrote a letter to defendants and their attorneys in which Damron is the chief, material or only witness and notified the defendants of Damron’s termination and of an internal investigation into allegations that Damron stole six firearms and other evidence that was found missing from the property room located inside the sheriff ’s office.
Banks said he also mailed a letter to Damron’s attorney, Daniel F. Dotson of Whitesburg, asking whether Damron would be able to testify in any of 10 pending cases in which Damron was considered the lead investigator. Banks said he hasn’t received a response, but that he wouldn’t expect Damron to testify in the cases is light of indictment against him.
So far, Banks has dismissed at least three cases in which evidence or case files could not be located.
Sheriff Webb doesn’t believe the criminal allegations against Damron will have a major impact on charges pending against others.
“There aren’t that many cases,” said Webb. “It’s not going to affect hardly anything.”
Banks included a statement in a recent plea agreement explaining that even though Damron is unavailable to testify, sufficient proof of the offense of hindering prosecution by the defendant is available including the previous statements of the defendant and through testimony of other witnesses including security video at a mine site.
Jonathan Maggard, 22, of Cumberland, recently pleaded guilty to assisting confessed killers James Ray Maggard and Stephanie Jones Fleming when he knew they were being sought in connection with the June 2012 murder of Dradrick “Drad” Fleming.
Letcher Circuit Court Judge Sam Wright sentenced Jonathan Maggard, a cousin of James Maggard, on May 6 to supervised pretrial diversion for five years for first-degree hindering prosecution/apprehension, a Class D Felony.
Shortly after James Maggard surrendered to authorities, Jonathan Maggard admitted to police that James Maggard came to his place of work at Hubble Mining’s No. 12 mine site near Eolia on the night of June 20, 2012 and went inside a guard shack there to clean himself up and change into clothes Stephanie Fleming had brought to him. The mine site is located near the site where Drad Fleming’s badly burned body was found inside of his burned out pickup truck.
As part of the order granting pretrial diversion, Jonathan Maggard must truthfully testify, consistent with previous statements provided by Jonathan Maggard, in any proceedings in connection with the Fleming murder case if requested by Banks.
“(Jonathan Maggard) is a vital witness,” said Banks.
Banks said Jonathan Maggard is the only person who could put James Maggard arriving at the guard shack covered in blood with Stephanie Fleming arriving shortly thereafter with a fresh change of clothes.
Jonathan Maggard must remain drug and alcohol free during the diversion program and is subject to random drug testing. Jonathan Maggard can’t have access to a firearm or handgun.
Jonathan Maggard can’t have any contact or communication — to include by third party or social media—with the immediate family of Drad Fleming and any members of their household, according to the guilty plea approved by Woody and Cathy Bentley and Webb. Jonathan Maggard must remain at least 500 feet away from the Drad Fleming family and their property.
Jonathan Maggard is the fourth person charged in connection with the murder of Drad Fleming, who was beaten nearly to death outside his Millstone home and later burned alive on Black Mountain near Eolia. Both Stephanie Fleming and James Maggard pleaded guilty in March 2014 to charges including complicity to capital murder under aggravated circumstances, complicity to first-degree arson and complicity to kidnapping. A third defendant, Austin Ison, pleaded guilty to criminal complicity to tampering with physical evidence and first-degree hindering prosecution/apprehension.
Damron, the lead investigator in the Drad Fleming murder case, was recently indicted on seven counts of receiving stolen property and one count of theft by unlawful taking.
Damron will be arraigned on the charges contained in the indictment on Monday, June 1 at 10:30 a.m. in Letcher District Court.