Gravel Switch drug ring sentenced

February 27, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

LEXINGTON - Members of two families, one from Boyle County and one from Garrard County, were sentenced Thursday in federal court for their part in a multi-million dollar marijuana farming conspiracy based in Gravel Switch.

Michael Hays, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison, manipulated and took advantage of his co-defendants because of their economic hardships, lack of education or drug addiction, U.S. District Judge Jennifer Coffman said during the all-day sentencing hearing.

Hays was the ringleader. With the help of his family, Hays planted marijuana between corn rows in Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio, according to court documents and testimony.

He, his wife, stepson and several of the growers also were involved in wrapping the body of a Danville man, Rusty Marshall, in plastic, hauling it in a horse trailer to Indiana and burying it in a field. Marshall's truck was cut in half and salvaged to hide his death.


No one has been charged in the murder, but the investigation continues.

Marshall's father was at the sentencing but declined to comment. He was seen in the lobby crying and embracing family members.

Hays showed no emotion during the sentencing and chose not to speak when asked if he had anything to say to the court. His left side shook, a result of injuries from when one of his co-defendants shot him in the head in Odon, Ind.

"I hope you make the most of this opportunity to reorganize your life," Judge Coffman told him.

Hays' minimum possible sentence was 20 years but was reduced because the prosecution said he cooperated with its investigation.

He will have five years of supervised probation after his release from prison.

Coffman said that none of the 10 defendants will be housed in the same prison. Of all of them, Hays will be given last choice of prisons.

"I'm not going to give them a chance to get together in prison and cook up something else," she said.

Hays' wife, Trena Hays, was sentenced to four years and five months in prison and five years of probation. She could have received 10 years, but the prosecution recommended that it be reduced.

Coffman said she thought that Trena Hays had already gotten a break because her mother and daughter were not indicted.

During the trial for another defendant, Trena Hays testified that her mother and daughter helped strip the marijuana to get it ready for sale.

"I'm sorry, sorry I was involved and that I let my family be involved," Trena Hays said, crying. "When I get this done, I want to be able to lead a normal life ... be with my son, my daughter and my granddaughter."

Trena Hays said Marshall was like a son to her and she felt bad every day of her life that she helped hide his murder.

"I will try to help in any way if they can find out who did it. I'll do anything to help," she said.

Trena Hays' son, Derek Keith Brummett, was sentenced to three years in prison and five years of probation.

"I think you have been influenced, if not manipulated, by your mother," Coffman said. "I hope this case has taught you to stand on your own feet."

William "David" Miller, of Lancaster, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was his minimum possible sentence.

Prosecutors didn't recommend a lighter sentence because they didn't feel that he had cooperated fully with the investigation.

Miller's attorney said, however, that without Miller, there wouldn't be a case. Miller told Indiana police about the marijuana farms after he shot Mike Hays in the head at a gas station in Odon, Ind. He is expected to face attempted murder charges there in June. Miller testified that he shot Hays because he feared for his life.

After his sentence, in tears, Miller said, "It's a sad day when someone is going to kill your family and you've got to suffer."

Coffman asked him to leave the courtroom.

Earlier, she had said she believed that Trena Hays blamed Miller for the charges.

"Her gravy train was over, and she blamed no one but David Miller," Coffman said.

Trena Hays testified in the trial of Miller's son, Scott Miller, who was found not guilty.

Coffman gave David Miller first choice of prisons.

David Miller's doctors gave him three years to live, according to his attorney, but Coffman said she wouldn't consider his health in his sentence because there are prison doctors that could take care of him.

David Miller suffers from hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

David Miller's daughter, Beverly Hall, was sentenced to 13 months in prison and two years probation.

The prosecution said she didn't comply with the investigation.

Police found a notebook of the family's income in a home on Hays' farm where Hall and her family lived. During an interview, she said she told police that she didn't know anything about marijuana and that they would have to prove that was her handwriting in the notebook and then left the interview. Her cooperation with the investigation was part of a plea agreement.

Beverly Hall's estranged husband, Frank Hall, was sentenced to 10 years in prison with five years of supervised probation.

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