A jury trial which was scheduled to begin April 18 in Letcher Circuit Court for two of three people accused of beating a 70- year- old Goose Creek man to death more than three years ago has been continued.
Letcher Circuit Judge Sam Wright granted a motion on April 15 by John William Pigg Jr., 40, to continue the trial in which he and Christina Hall Collins, 34, are accused of beating Ralph Marcum to death with a hammer on April 12, 2008 and dumping his body over an embankment near Myra in Pike County.
The motion was filed by Pigg’s co-councils, William Lewis Collins and James Cox, after John Pigg’s cousin, Lloyd Steven Pigg, 40, pleaded guilty in Letcher Circuit Court on April 12 to an amended charge of complicity to tampering with physical evidence in connection with the death of Ralph Marcum. Lloyd Pigg is now expected to testify against his two former co-defendants when their murder trial begins.
William Lewis Collins said the approach to the trial will be significantly altered after the last-minute plea deal by Lloyd Pigg and a continuance was necessary.
Wright accepted Lloyd Pigg’s guilty plea and sentenced him to five years in prison. Lloyd Pigg will receive credit for 806 days he served in jail after his arrest. He will not get credit for the time he has been on house arrest with electronic monitoring since June 2010.
John Pigg pleaded guilty on April 15 to 10 charges for additional crimes he committed after Marcum was murdered. These charges include reckless driving, speeding 26 miles over the speed limit, operating a motor vehicle under the infl uence of alcohol or drugs, first-degree fleeing or evading police, two counts of first- degree wanton endangerment, two counts of fourth-degree assault minor injury and two counts of first-degree criminal mischief.
John Pigg was arrested after he wrecked Marcum’s vehicle at Payne Gap after leading police on a chase at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour from Thornton, where on the morning after the murder Pigg had allegedly beaten his estranged wife, Wendy Hatton Pigg, and assaulted the couple’s young daughter.
The chase involving John Pigg and Kentucky State Police Sgt. Barry Engle began at the Thornton bridge and ended near Fishpond Lake, when Pigg lost control of Marcum’s car and crashed into a vehicle operated by Nicholas Meacham.
Because the wreck resulted in injuries to Meacham and his pregnant wife, the jury indicted John Pigg on two counts of fourth-degree assault.
As part of the guilty plea, John Pigg is ordered to pay $650 in fines. He will serve 30 days in jail for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, five years in prison for fleeing and evading police, five years in prison for each of the two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, 365 days for each of the two counts of fourth-degree assault, five years for each of the two first-degree criminal mischief. The charges will run concurrently meaning five years is the maximum amount of time John Pigg will serve in jail for these charges.
John Pigg will receive no days credit toward the instant sentence for any period of incarceration arising from the remaining charges on the indictment. Any period of incarceration arising from the remaining charges of the indictment will be served concurrently with the charges in which he pleaded.
A hearing will be held to assess damages for the injuries sustained to the Meachams and for property damages to their automobile and the automobile owned by Marcum.
Christina Collins, of Millstone, was released from the Letcher County Jail and placed on house arrest on June 10, 2010. John Pigg, of Thornton, is still being held in the Letcher County Jail.
John Pigg and Christina Collins still face charges of complicity to murder, complicity to first-degree robbery, complicity to theft by unlawful taking, complicity to second-degree burglary and complicity to theft of a controlled substance.
Authorities say Marcum was killed in a small home resembling a tool shed where Lloyd Pigg was living next to his mother at 178 B&O Hill in Jenkins. Collins told police that John Pigg hit Marcum with a hammer after Marcum refused to give the three a ride to nearby Pound, Va., to buy beer.
The trio committed theft, the grand jury says, when they “took control” of Marcum’s 1991 Toyota automobile and used it to move Marcum’s body to rural Pike County, an action that also led to them being indicted on a tampering with physical evidence charge.
The indictments, returned in 2008, say Collins and the two Piggs committed second-degree burglary when they broke into Marcum’s apartment at Goose Creek, where they “ took possession of controlled substances” that had belonged to Marcum. Collins, who was found walking along KY 317 at Deane on the morning after the murder, was also indicted on a charge of alcohol intoxication for the third or more time.
A pre-trial conference for John Pigg and Christina Collins is set for June 24.