The top local news stories of 2004

December 26, 2004

Newborn taken by nurse's aid; kidnapper gets 20 years

STANFORD - In the cold morning hours of April 2, a 1-day-old baby was taken from the maternity ward of Stanford's Fort Logan Hospital by an off-duty nurse's aid there. The baby, Grayci Barrows, was later found abandoned in a Bowling Green alley by a woman walking her dog. Grayci recovered from hypothermia and was reunited with her parents.

The nurse's aid, Tanya Shelton, 25, was arrested and charged with kidnapping. After pleading guilty, she was sentenced Nov. 12 to 20 years in prison. She will be eligible for parole in 2008 and, as part of a plea agreement that amended down the degree of her charges, she may not apply for shock probation.

Boyle County teacher gets 30 years for child pornography charges

Mark Starr began 2004 as a teacher at Boyle County Middle School. He is ending the year in the Fayette County Detention Center waiting to be sent to a federal prison to serve his 30-year sentence on child pornography charges.


Starr, 33, pleaded guilty to 10 federal counts of taking nude pictures of his young nieces as they slept at his Boyle County home and downloading child pornography images to his computer. U.S. District Judge Jennifer Coffman gave Starr nearly the maximum sentence after listening to impassioned pleas from Starr's family members to show him no mercy.

Two students at Boyle Middle initially blew the whistle on Starr, reporting him after he taped them changing clothes at a room at the school. Following an investigation by the school, Starr was fired from his job as technology and career explorations teacher he had held for four years.

Then Kentucky State Police Detective Chris Crockett got involved and confiscated computers from the school, Starr's home and Alum Springs First Church of God, where Starr had served as youth minister. Using new technology, KSP forensics experts recovered pornographic images that Starr had deleted from the computers.

"He has used his teaching profession and his Christianity as a front for what he truly is - a predator," one of Starr's relatives told the judge during sentencing earlier this month.

Retired Danville principal shot to death while mowing lawn

Jack Caldwell Sr. is asking that his murder trial be moved out of Boyle County because of all the media coverage generated by the shooting death of his well-known neighbor, retired Danville educator Jim Trachsel.

Police arrested Caldwell, 79, at his home on Boone Trail in August and charged him with shooting Trachsel five times with a rifle as Trachsel was mowing his yard near the property line the two men shared. Police said a long-running dispute between the two neighbors over property boundaries and drainage issues was behind the killing.

Attorneys for Caldwell, however, maintain he shot in self defense when Trachsel drove up behind him on a riding lawn mower. Caldwell was carrying a rifle in his yard because he was hunting for a skunk that had been seen in the neighborhood, the attorneys claim.

Caldwell is suffering from a variety of illnesses and appeared in court in a wheelchair. He was released on a $250,000 cash bond in October and is living with relatives in Lancaster.

Trachsel's widow, Bonnie Trachsel, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Caldwell and family members asking for an unspecified amount in damages. The civil case has not been set for trial.

Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Peckler is scheduled to hear arguments about moving Caldwell's murder trial on Feb. 7.

Alleged Boyle County murder plot unravels after police get tip

Danville businessman Ronnie Gay Cornett was arrested Dec. 2 and charged with plotting to his ex-wife, her attorney, and Boyle Family Court Judge Bruce Petrie.

Cornett, 56, was in the midst of appealing his divorce decree from Kathleen Cornett when his appellate attorney received information from his longtime friend and business partner indicating the murder plot.

Kentucky State Police staked out Cornett's home where they arrested and charged him with three counts of criminal intent to commit murder.

During a preliminary hearing, testimony was presented that the plot included a suicide plan as well.

The foiled plan caused a communitywide alert to increase security in local courthouses and resulted in a financial hardship on Boyle County. Boyle Sheriff LeeRoy Hardin agreed to forgo buying a new police cruiser to pay for additional court bailiffs.

Voters oust two from Danville City Commission

After a lively two years of split votes and ethics questions and major changes for Danville, the City Commission was shaken up in the November election. Two incumbents stayed on, Jamey Gay and Terry Crowley, and two were voted out, Chester Kavanaugh and Ryan Owens.

The two challengers who won those seats have both been commissioners before, Alex Stevens and Kevin Caudill.

The new commission will take office Jan. 4.

Gay, head athletic trainer at Centre College, had the most votes, 3,753.

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