Mother believes son is not a murderer

August 27, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - Mary Rowland does not believe her son killed Burdette Earles on June 19.

"He's not the kind of person who would kill anyone," Rowland says of Danny Dwight Poff, 22, who is charged with capital murder in the death and robbery of Earls, 65, and the beating of Sandra Jernigan, 43, in Earls' Harmon's Lick home. A juvenile was also arrested and is being held in the Laurel County Detention Center.

Earls died from a blow to the head from a large rock, according to Fayette County Deputy Coroner Miles White. Poff also faces a number of other charges including first-degree robbery, burglary and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Rowland said her son is "going crazy" because of his arrest and incarceration on July 21. "He tried to kill himself last Monday," she said.


According to Chief Deputy Major Karl Leach of the Lincoln County Regional Jail, Poff tried to hang himself in his cell Aug. 18. Leach said Poff put a bedsheet around his neck, tied it around a metal object in the cell, then stood on a mop bucket. He kicked the mop bucket away, but several other in-mates came to his rescue and brought him down. Leach said Poff did not hurt himself, but he was taken to the Correctional Psychiatric Treatment Unit at the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange. "He needed to go up there anyway, to see if he's competent to stand trial," Leach said.

The indictment against Poff states that he acted "alone or in complicity with" a person identified only as John Dyer. It does not indicate whether Dyer is the other person arrested and police have not confirmed that. However, Rowland said that Poff was living with his girlfriend, Amber Dyer, and that it was her brother who was arrested along with Poff. Poff and the Dyers lived next door to Earls, she said.

State Police remain tight-lipped about the murder investigation. A call by The Advocate-Messenger to Detective Monte Owens, who was the witness to the Garrard County grand jury, was not returned Tuesday.

Rowland says since they were next-door neighbors and good friends, it was common for Poff and Dyer to visit with Earls and Jernigan. She said they found the couple that day and called 911.

Dosha Dyer, Amber's mother, said "neither one of the boys did it (killed Earls).

"Why would they call 911? Both boys are innocent," she said.

Dyer said the arrests have been hard to deal with. "It's just tearing us up," she said.

A month and two days passed before police made arrests in Earls' death. "In a month's time, he (Poff) thought he would be a suspect," said Rowland. "He figured they would be involved."

Rowland said a short time after Jernigan was treated for the injuries she received on June 19, she was arrested and incarcerated in the Casey County jail. A spokesperson at the jail in Liberty said Jernigan was being held on charges of a felony offense of probation violation and was released Aug. 6.

Rowland described her son as a "really sweet boy" whose only trouble involved stealing a four-wheeler, which was eventually "straightened out." She said when he was in school Poff had learning difficulties and was kept on medication. "He didn't like sitting still," she said.

Poff is expected to remain at the psychiatric facility in LaGrange for about six weeks, Rowland said. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 17. Prior to the suicide attempt, Poff was being held in the Lincoln County jail without bond. "They (the police) told him he would get life in prison," she said.

Rowland is asking for the public's help in proving her son's innocence. "We are asking that anyone that might have seen or heard of something to please come forward with any information that you have to help prove Danny's innocence. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Please contact 365-9819 or 787-8439," she wrote in a letter to The Advocate-Messenger.

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