Special Letcher Circuit Judge Kent Hendrickson has denied a request by murder defendant Patrick Smith that all charges against him be dismissed because his right to a speedy trial was violated.
“I find Smith has not been denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial,” Hendrickson said in an order filed recently.
Smith is one of two Pike County men charged in the New Year’s Day stabbing death of 24-year-old Michael Shane Hogg in downtown Whitesburg in 2014.
Smith is scheduled to be tried in Whitesburg on March 17 on charges of criminal complicity to murder, three charges of criminal attempt to commit murder, criminal complicity to commit criminal mischief in the first degree, two charges of carrying a concealed deadly weapon, and and tampering with physical evidence. Smith’s codefendant, James Huffman, is scheduled to be tried here in April.
Smith’s motion, filed November 14, said the charges against him should be dismissed because about three years will have gone by since he was indicted by a Letcher County Grand Jury.
In his ruling, Hendrickson said there “is little doubt Smith’s changes in counsel have been a substantial cause of any delays.”
Says the order: “On April 17, 2014, an order of indigency was entered, which allowed Smith to be represented by local Department of Public Advocacy lawyers. Thereafter followed a number of routine events, including arraignment on April 17, 2014, a motion for bond filed August 11, 2014, a Motion for Reciprocal Discovery filed September 5, 2014, an agreed order entered December 29, 2014, putting off a pre-trial conference until February 24, 2015, and another agreed order rescheduling the conference for April 21, 2015. I see nothing unusual about the pace of proceedings up to this point in time, and I see no delay attributable to the (prosecution).
“On March 24, 2015, Attorney Thomas Griffiths entered his appearance as lead counsel for Smith, replacing the local DPA lawyers. This is a complex case, and no doubt Attorney Griffiths required some time getting up to speed. Moreover, both parties remark in their respective pleadings that Attorney Griffiths moved to Seattle, Washington after his entry of appearance — a move that must have impacted his ability to attend to this matter. By order entered May 12, 2015, a trial date was set for October 5, 2015, with an alternate date of January 4, 2016. It is unclear whether Attorney Griffiths’ move to Seattle aborted the October trial, but the trial did not take place.
“On November 23, 2015, Attorney Kim Green entered her appearance as cocounsel for Smith. Again, this is a complex case, and it is likely she too required some time to familiarize herself with it.
“In the meantime there came an intervening event unconnected with Smith or his trial date. In November 2015, former Letcher Circuit Judge Samuel Wright was elected to the Kentucky Supreme Court, and the undersigned was appointed special judge in this matter on December 1, 2015.”