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Suspect one of several facing violence-related indictments

A Letcher County man is facing an indictment charging that he nailed a woman’s pants leg to a wall and set the house on fire.

David Dwight Taylor, 42, of 46 Orange Dr., Whitesburg, is charged with first-degree arson, first-degree wanton endangerment, kidnapping, fourth-degree assault and being a persistent felony offender in the first degree.

According to the indictment, the incident occurred December 9 on Camp Branch. The indictment charges that Taylor nailed Brianna Cornett’s pants leg to a wall, poured “an unknown substance believed to be an accelerant” on her and throughout her home at 5273 Thorn ton Road.

The indictment says he then set fire to the house, which “created a substantial danger of death or serious injury” to Cornett.

Taylor is also charged with theft by unlawful taking over $500 and being a persistent felony offender in the first degree. In that indictment, Taylor is accused of being in possession of a metal door stolen from Sapphire Mining Co. on October 21, 2020.

Deputy Sheriff James Norris testified in the theft case, and Kentucky State Police Trooper Jason Bates testified in the arson case.

The indictments are two of 59 returned by a Letcher County Grand Jury in its first session following the reopening of state courts after their closure due to COVID-19.

While many of the indictments involve drug charges, several involved violent offenses.

• Mahala J. Sizemore, 42, of 435 Loves Branch, is charged with second-degree assault, first-degree wanton endangerment, public intoxication (excluding alcohol), resisting arrest, first-degree fleeing and evading police on foot, and terroristic threatening. She is charged in a second indictment with second-degree escape.

Sizemore is accused of stabbing Douglas “Doug” Banks on December 11, 2020 and pointing a 12-gauge shotgun at Douglas Banks and Joyce Banks. She is also accused of running away from Deputy Norris when he tried to arrest her, and resisting arrest. She also is accused of violating home incarceration. Deputy Sheriff Ben Fields testified in that case.

• Matthew Allen Whitaker, 35, of 404 Bullock Ct., Cumberland, is also charged in two separate indictments for crimes that allegedly occurred on November 25, 2020. Whitaker is charged with attempted murder, two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree criminal mischief, driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance (refusal to take chemical test), failure to produce an insurance card, failure of non-owner operator to maintain insurance, operating on a suspended license, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, and being a persistent felony offender in the first degree.

Whitaker is accused of pointing a loaded, 9mm Sig-Sauer pistol at Chris Ison, who was a passenger in a pickup truck driven by Scott Trent of Whitco, and firing at least two shots at Trent. He is also accused of turning the vehicle he was driving and coming back, firing another two shots at Trent. At least two of the bullets struck the pickup truck, according to the indictment.

KSP Trooper Brandon Watts testified in the case.

• Also indicted last week was Edward Dean Jones, 29, of 17 Loves Branch. Jones is charged with two counts of second-degree assault, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol (third offense, and refusal to submit to chemical test), driving on a license suspended for DUI, leaving the scene of an accident/ failure to render aid or assistance with serious physical injury, first-degree criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, menacing, three counts of third-degree terroristic threatening, two counts of third-degree assault, and resisting arrest.

Jones is accused of failing to stop and assess the damage or render aid after he hit another vehicle driven by Ernest G. Austin with his car on September 28. The incident injured both Ernest Austin and Joana Austin, a minor, and caused more than $1,000 damage to Austin’s 2007 Honda Odyssey van.

He is also accused of threatening the Austins and two state police troopers, placing KSP Trooper Jason Bates and Sgt. Derek Sturgill in “reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury, resisting arrest, and injuring or attempting to injure both officers.

Trooper Bates testified before the grand jury in the case.

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