Witnesses: Marshall sold pot for Hays

November 23, 2003|LIZ MAPLES

LEXINGTON -- Rusty Marshall sold marijuana grown by Michael Hays' Gravel Switch operation before he was found dead in Hays' kitchen and buried in an Indiana field, according to witnesses that testified Friday in federal court.

The trial is for David "Scott" Miller, a former Garrard County animal control officer who is charged with conspiracy for helping work a marijuana field and clipping buds for Hays. Miller's attorney, David Guarnieri, is expected to begin his case on Monday afternoon.

Michael Hays came to the courthouse Friday afternoon, but didn't come into the courtroom, and isn't expected to be called by the prosecution to testify. He and nine others that worked on his operation have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

Five of them - Hays; his wife, Trena; her son, Derek; and two Indiana farmers, Clifford Slusher and Dean Heckathorn - have pleaded guilty to burying Marshall's body without calling police.


Big T and the marijuana business

Trena Hays, nicknamed "Big T," revealed more names of those who had helped strip marijuana, including her mother, Claire Elder, and her daughter, Nicki Brummett, and described how she found Marshall. She faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Trena Hays said that she is living apart from Michael Hays, but neither has filed for divorce.

She has worked at a hair salon and food mart since she was released from jail in September. These are the first jobs she has had since she married Michael Hays in 1995 and became a homemaker.

Trena Hays said it wasn't until her second year of marriage that she found out her husband grew marijuana. Michael Hays bought and sold horses, crops, cattle and farms, and Trena Hays said she thought that is how he made all his money.

In 1997, Michael Hays was building a horse barn behind the house when she looked in the garage, always kept locked, and saw marijuana plants. From then on she cloned plants, stripped marijuana and paid workers, but didn't work in the field.

When it was time to go to the field she packed her husband's clothes and watched other workers meet at the house before dawn, then leave in Michael Hays' vehicles.

She said she remembered that Scott Miller came to the field one year because her husband was "mad" at him and his brother-in-law, Frank Hall.

Before she said why, U.S. District Judge Jennifer Coffman suppressed her because she said it was hearsay.

U.S. Assistant Attorney Ron Walker asked Trena Hays to identify the initials on tally sheets that recorded the amount of marijuana each worker stripped at her home in Gravel Switch. The papers were seized by police in a raid.

She named Frank Hall, Scott Miller, Dave Miller, Butch Beasley, Dean Heckathorn, Travis Lanham and Steve Lanham. When she got to her mother, Claire Elder, Trena Hays' voice got shaky and she began to cry. Then she identified her mother, her daughter, Nicki Brummett, and later, her son, Derek Keith Brummett.

Asked why she wrote down the names, she said, "because that's what Mike said to do."

One sheet indicated that the crew had stripped more than 18 pounds in one week. Workers were paid $70 a pound to strip. Michael Hays rarely stripped because he "had to be out" so no one would suspect what was going on, she said.

Charges have not been filed against either of the Lanhams, Nicki Brummett or Claire Elder.

Trena Hays said the 2002 crop, the season that Marshall was murdered, was the largest crop Michael Hays had ever planted.

The Hayses discover the body

Trena Hays described the Easter weekend when Marshall was found dead:

Marshall was house sitting while she and her husband went to a horse pull competition in Syracuse, N.Y.

She said Michael Hays had called his parents, who live down the road, to come up to the house to talk about the horse pull. Michael Hays was putting the horses in the barn and she went to let her dogs out of the house.

As Trena Hays, dressed in black pants and a purple dress jacket, told the story, she cried.

She went into the kitchen to put something in the trash and saw Marshall's tennis shoe on the floor. When she picked it up, she saw him on the floor, covered with clothes.

She screamed. Michael Hays came to the house. He told her to remove the clothes so they could see if it was Marshall.

She touched him and then started to call an ambulance.

"Mike said there was no need because he was dead," she said.

Michael Hays said they couldn't call the police because marijuana from Odon, Ind., the largest crop, was still at the house.

"He said the police would think we did it because of the marijuana," she said.

Trena Hays said she went outside with her parents while Michael Hays called his son-in-law, Derek Keith Brummett, and two Indiana men, Dean Heckathorn and Clifford Slusher.

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