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Jury is to report soon in Drad Fleming case

The Letcher County Grand Jury is expected to meet Thursday to report the results of its investigation into the Dradrick “Drad” Fleming homicide case.

Charges against the two suspects accused of murdering Fleming — Fleming’s wife, Stephanie Yvonn Jones Fleming, and her lover, James Ray Maggard — were referred to the grand jury after a preliminary hearing before Letcher District Judge Kevin Mullins in late June. The jury heard testimony from investigators with the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department on July 12.

Meanwhile, the case drew national attention this week when the nation’s second-largest newspaper, The New York Times, carried details of the events surrounding Fleming’s death in a story headlined “Hard Times and a Killing in Kentucky’s Coal Country.” The story was written by veteran Times reporter Erica Goode, who spent a few days in Letcher County in late June.

While Goode was here, she interviewed the mother of James Maggard, who said her “heart goes out to each and every” member of Fleming’s family. The mother, Shirley Maggard of Neon, said her son “was brought up good” and “was always respectful.”

Police say Maggard confessed to beating Mr. Fleming, an undergound coal miner, with a baseball bat and leaving him inside his truck near a mine site in the Black Mountain area early on the morning of June 20. Fleming’s badly burned body was found three days later inside the truck, which was also burned.

Maggard, who met Mrs. Fleming while the two worked at McDonald’s in Whitesburg, is also charged with arson in connection with the case. He maintains he was acting in self-defense when he beat Mr. Fleming.

The Times also interviewed Drad Fleming’s mother, Cathy Bentley, who told of her actions on the night her son failed to show up for the funeral of his Uncle Chand Fleming at the Neon Church of Christ.

Mrs. Bentley said that when she realized Drad Fleming wasn’t at the funeral, she turned to her younger son Afton and said, “Son, you’ve got to take me home, because I can’t find your brother.”

The Times report is available on the Internet at www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/us/wifeand lover-charged-in-coalcountry killing.html.

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