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Freed from charges of reckless homicide, man faces drug count

Jason Ray Ison is accused of selling pills, assaulting woman just days after release

A 24-year-old Letcher County man whose release from state prison stirred considerable controversy earlier this year is back in trouble again.

Jason Ray Ison, the UZ man whose conviction on three counts of reckless homicide was overturned by the Kentucky Court of Appeals, is now being accused of entering the illegal drug trade less than a month after his January 22 release from the Little Sandy Correctional Complex in Sandy Hook.

Indictments charging Ison with trafficking in the painkiller hydrocodone, being a persistent felony offender, endangering the welfare of a child less than 12 years were unsealed recently in Letcher Circuit Court.

The indictments were ordered by Letcher Circuit Judge Sam Wright to be opened after Ison was arrested and taken to the Letcher County Jail, where he will remain unless a $20,000 cash bond is posted on his behalf.

One of the indictments, returned after Kentucky State Police Detective Ben Campbell appeared before the grand jury, charges that Ison on February 17 sold hydrocodone to a witness cooperating with KSP.

A second indictment accuses criminal abuse and fourth-degree assault on March 20.

The grand jury says Ison assaulted Nola Caldwell and criminally abused Caldwell’s child, who is less than 12 years old, by placing the child “in a situation that may cause (the child) serious physical injury or torture, cruel confinement or cruel punishment.”

KSP Detective Randy Combs testified to the grand jury about the abuse and assault charges, and the charge of Ison being a persistent felony offender.

Arraignment for Ison, who lives at Hancock Drive, UZ, is set for 1 p.m. on May 20 in Letcher Circuit Court.

Ison won release from a prison sentence of 18-1/2 years after the Kentucky Supreme Court let stand a September 2008 ruling by the Court of Appeals which found that Ison was wrongly convicted of six criminal charges filed against him after his wife and two other passengers in his car were killed in a traffic accident near Whitesburg in October 2005.

The three-judge Appeals Court panel reversed Ison’s April 2007 conviction and ordered the dismissal of charges of first-degree assault, first-degree wanton endangerment (two counts), and reckless homicide (three counts).

The ruling did let stand Ison’s misdemeanor convictions on charges of having defective equipment on his car (bald rear tires) and failing to have automotive insurance.

The Appeals Court ruling said the jury was not presented with enough evidence against Ison to support its “clearly unreasonable” finding that Ison was acting “with criminal conduct” when he lost control of the Ford Mustang he was driving on KY 15 near Van and crashed it into an oncoming vehicle driven by Tracy Craft.

Killed in the wreck, which occurred on the rainy afternoon of October 21, 2005, were Jason Ison’s wife, Misty, a friend, Jimmy Boggs, and his cousin, Allen Bailey. The impact also resulted in a severe leg injury to Ms. Craft. Two passengers in her SUV were not injured.

The latest charges against Ison will come as a relief to family members who lost loved ones in the 2005 wreck and were upset by the convictions being overturned.

Misty Ison’s father, Johnny

Branham of Craft’s Colly, told The

Mountain Eagle earlier this year that he was unable to sleep knowing that Ison was out prison.

Stella Boggs, mother of Jimmy Boggs, was also outraged by Ison’s release.

Their comments were made in response to an earlier demand by Ison’s father, Gary Brashears of McRoberts, that court officials apologize to his son for the convictions and the time he spent in prison.

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