Details emerge about Hays crimes

November 20, 2003|LIZ MAPLES

LEXINGTON - New details about the circumstances around the disposal of a Danville man's body and the operation of a Boyle County marijuana farm are emerging from testimony in federal court and in the plea agreements of the defendants.

The latest came Tuesday in a statement in open court by Clifford Slusher, of Indiana, during his guilty plea on charges of conspiracy.

Slusher recounted an Easter Sunday telephone call from Michael Hays, who was at his Gravel Switch home on the marijuana farm he ran.

"Mike called me and said, 'Someone killed Rusty,'" he said, referring to Rusty Marshall, whose connection to Hays is not known.


Slusher said Hays wanted to bury the body on Slusher's land in Indiana because Slusher had a bulldozer.

"I was in a trance. I've never been around something like that in my life," Slusher told U.S. District Judge Jennifer Coffman.

The body was wrapped in plastic and put in a horse trailer. Hays and Slusher drove the trailer to Indiana.

Slusher said when they got to Louisville he snapped out of his trance and told Hays that they weren't going to bury the body on his land. Instead they took it to land that Hays leased in Odon, Ind., where police later found it.

Slusher, dressed in dark blue jeans, a denim-colored shirt and work boots, said he worked in the timber business. He is a high school graduate, who said he has never had any drug or alcohol abuse problems.

He told the judge that he agreed to furnish a place for Michael Hays to grow marijuana in Indiana. He said he was paid cash, sometimes in Gravel Switch, and that he used the money to pay his bills.

Slusher's attorney asked Coffman to seal Slusher's plea agreement because "recent occurrences had caused his family concern."

In their plea agreements, Hays and his wife, Trena, said they returned from a trip to Syracuse, N.Y., to their house off Forkland Road on Easter Sunday to find Marshall's body lying in a pool of blood in their kitchen. They said they didn't call police because of the marijuana activity.

Details of the inner workings of their marijuana operation, with fields also in Indiana and Wisconsin, were revealed in court documents after Hays and nine of his co-defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in federal court.

How the marijuana farm worked

In the plea agreements, others explained how the marijuana farm worked:

Michael Hays had plants cloned from those on his Gravel Switch farm and then brought to Indiana and Wisconsin in horse trailers.

The crop was cultivated much like tobacco.

Michael Hays' crop was planted among rows of corn in Indiana and Wisconsin. It was fertilized and then harvested in the fall. After the marijuana was cut, it was allowed to dry in the field or brought to barns in Gravel Switch. Before it could be sold, it was hung to dry, stripped, bundled and manicured.

Hays hired his wife, his son-in-law, Derek Keith Brummett; Alan Grass, of Wisconsin; Slusher; Ricky Griffin, of Lawrenceburg; Frank Hall, of Lancaster; William Miller, of Lancaster; Dean Heckathorn, of Michigan; Butch Beasley, of Lawrenceburg; and Beverly Hall and David Miller, both of Lancaster.

Everyone except David Miller pleaded guilty to charges that they helped on the farm. David Miller's trial was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. today.

Michael Hays said he would tell these people what fields to work, when, and then would pay them, in cash, for their help on the farm.

Beverly Hall said she and her husband, Frank Hall, lived at the tenant farm on Michael Hays' property in 2002 -2003. She and others said that they would strip the marijuana, and then it would be bagged and weighed. Employees were paid in cash based on the amount they stripped.

Some of the employees were paid to be lookouts and guard the marijuana in Gravel Switch.

The Hayses have agreed to forfeit $4 million in farm equipment, vehicles, cattle, horses and property in Boyle, Casey and Marion counties in Kentucky and in Daviess County, Ind.

All of the defendants are expected to be sentenced Feb. 26 in U.S. District Court.

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