Murder suspect seeks new trial date

Published 12:45 pm Monday, September 9, 2019

Attorneys for murder suspect Matthew Carmen say they will not be ready for the upcoming trial, citing volumes of evidence still to be analyzed.

Carmen is one of four people charged in a November 2017 shooting near two sets of apartments on East Washington Street which left two 16-year-old girls dead.

Carmen’s attorney filed a number of motions in the case recently, including seeking a continuance in the trial and and the suppression of his statement to police.

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Carmen is the first of the defendants in the 2017 shooting to have a trial scheduled. His attorney Sarah Fightmaster said the current trial date of Nov. 4 doesn’t provide enough time to review the evidence and prepare a defense.

In her motion, Fightmaster said she received evidence from prosecutors on Aug. 16 including eight compact discs of statements. She said she received two more discs of surveillance video and two flash drives of documents and records on Aug. 23 from the attorney for co-defendant Ronnie Ellis.

There are also issues involving ballistic evidence in the case and the possibility of hiring an expert to testify at trial, she said.

“There is no way counsel can ethically answer ready for trial on Nov. 4, 2019,” she wrote.

In a separate motion, Fightmaster asks the judge to suppress Carmen’s statement to police. Fightmaster said the detectives, on the recording, did not tell Carmen he could stop the interview at any time and did not ask whether he wanted to waive his rights and speak with police.

According to the motion, Carmen said he understood his rights as they were read.

The two motions, along with others, are scheduled for a hearing at 10 a.m. Sept. 26 in Clark Circuit Court.

The two girls, Kayla Holland and Adrianna Castro, died from gunshot wounds after Carmen allegedly exchanged shots with Ellis, Darian Skinner and Denzel Hill on Nov. 7, 2017. Winchester Police said a fourth person, Mikaela Buford, drove Ellis, Skinner and Hill to the scene. The three reportedly got out of the car, spread out and started firing as they approached the parking lot.

In a 2017 court hearing, Winchester Police Sgt. Tom Beall said Carmen admitted to firing a .40 caliber handgun, but said it was in self-defense.

Police believe the shooting stemmed from a verbal altercation earlier in the day among 10 people, including the two victims.

Skinner is also expected to be tried by a jury.

Ellis is expected to enter a guilty plea at some point, but there have been questions concerning his mental health.

Hill pleaded guilty in June to two counts of facilitation to commit murder and single counts of first-degree wanton endangerment and tampering with physical evidence. Prosecutors recommended a 20-year sentence. He must also testify against his co-defendants at trial.

Buford pleaded guilty in March to two counts of facilitation to commit murder, and one count of complicity to first-degree wanton endangerment. Prosecutors recommended a five-year prison sentence. Neither Buford nor Hill have been sentenced yet.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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