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Ruling means murder victim can be buried

The holiday season may have become just a little more bearable for the family of homicide victim Dradrick “Drad” Fleming.

On November 9 — 20 weeks after Fleming’s badly burned body was found on the side of Black Mountain — Letcher Circuit Judge Sam Wright signed an order directing the Kentucky State Medical Examiner’s Office to release Fleming’s remains for burial.

Wright’s order became possible after a defense attorney said Drad Fleming’s wife, defendant Stephanie Yvonne Jones Fleming, no longer objects to her husband’s remains being released. Mrs. Fleming had asked that the remains be preserved until all DNA testing used for identifi cation purposes was completed.

“It is hereby ordered that the offi ce of the associate chief medical examiner of the Commonwealth of Kentucky be and hereby is autho- rized to release the remains of Dradrick ‘Drad’ Fleming … for burial purposes,” Wright said in his motion. “It is further ordered that the office of the associate chief medical examiner for the Commonwealth of Kentucky continue to preserve all items identified in the said autopsy report of August 13, 2012.”

Fleming’s body was found in his red 2011 Chevrolet Silverado pickup on the afternoon of June 23 after defendant James Ray Maggard, who was Mrs. Fleming’s lover, walked into the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Office and confessed to killing Fleming. Maggard then led police to the site of Fleming’s body near a mine site in the Eolia area.

Maggard, 33, of 410 Goose Creek Road, Neon, told deputies he beat Fleming, who worked as an underground coal miner, with a baseball bat, and said the incident occurred on Pine Mountain near Whitesburg after Fleming confronted him with the bat. Investigators say the beating was instead an ambush that took place near the Flemings’ mobile home near Millstone around 10 p.m. on June 20, and that Maggard then drove a still-alive Fleming to the mine site near Franks Creek before pouring an accelerant on Fleming and the truck and setting them both afire.

The grand jury has charged Maggard, with capital murder, tampering with physical evidence, theft, hindering prosecution, arson, and kidnapping.

Stephanie Fleming, 30, of 989 Hwy. 2545, Thornton, is charged with complicity to capital murder, complicity to tampering with physical evidence, complicity to theft, hindering prosecution, complicity to arson, complicity to kidnapping, and being a persistent felony offender.

A third defendant, Austin L. Ison, 24, of Pert Creek, is charged with complicity to murder, complicity to arson, complicity to kidnapping, complicity to tampering with physical evidence, and hindering prosecution.

Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks II is seeking the death penalty in each of the three cases.

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