A teenager charged with killing a four-month-old baby entered a not guilty plea during arraignment in Letcher Circuit Court Tuesday.
The indictment naming Keaston Allen Taylor, 17, of 34 Turner Drive, Whitesburg, became public February 10 when Taylor appeared in circuit court with his defense attorney, William Lewis Collins.
Before Tuesday, Taylor was treated as a juvenile and all matters pertaining to the case were handled in Letcher District Court and kept confidential, including his name and age. Now that the case has been transferred from district court to circuit court, Taylor will be tried as an adult and the case is open to the public.
Under Kentucky law, the following factors must be considered before determining whether the juvenile’s case should be transferred to Circuit Court: the seriousness of the alleged offense; whether the offense was against persons or property; the maturity of the child as determined by his environment; the child’s prior record; the best interest of the child and the community; the prospects of adequate protection of the public; the likelihood of reasonable rehabilitation of the child by the use of procedures, services and facilities currently available the juvenile justice system; and evidence of a child’s participation in a gang.
The Letcher County Grand Jury returned an indictment January 22 charging Taylor with murder. The grand jury says Taylor “wantonly caused the death of Blayze Alexander Smith by throwing the infant off of and down an embankment where the severely injured and helpless infant died due to blunt force trauma of the head caused from the impact resulting from the actions of (Taylor) and/or from the submersion of the infant in mud and water after being thrown off of and down the embankment by (Taylor).”
The murder charge carries a penalty of not less than 20 years imprisonment, but not more than 50 years or life imprisonment.
A Kentucky State Police trooper was dispatched to a residence on Turner Drive, located between Seco and Kona, at 5:16 a.m. on June 6 after a caller said an infant was missing. The baby was found at 6:40 a.m. over an embankment located behind the residence.
Two psychologists examined Taylor and independently concluded that Taylor is incompetent to stand trial, according to a notice filed by Collins.
A competency hearing is set for June 23 in Letcher Circuit Court and a pretrial conference is set for June 24.
Taylor is being held in the Breathitt County Juvenile Detention Center.