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Lubas, Wood headline top finishers at state meet

Trial against former HPD Lt. Alexander perjury begins
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The jury trial against retired Hopkinsville Police Officer Jefferson Alexander, who is charged with first-degree perjury, got under way Monday afternoon as the commonwealth and defense gave their opening statements and the prosecution’s first witness began giving their testimony.

Alexander is accused of providing false or misleading testimony during a Grand Jury hearing that led to the indictment of former Hopkinsville City Councilmember Ann Cherry in 2012.

The Grand Jury indicted Alexander on his perjury charge in March 2019 following an FBI investigation into the 2012 case.

According to New Era archives, the Christian County Commonwealth’s Attorney at the time in 2012, Lynn Pryor, questioned Alexander as a witness before the grand jury in August of 2012, and while sworn under oath, Alexander allegedly provided false or misleading testimony, that led Cherry to being charged tampering with a witness, tampering with public records and second-degree official misconduct.

The Hopkinsville Police Department alleged that Cherry had hindered HPD’s investigation of the “Southside Prowler” case, which involved a man who committed a string of burglaries and sexually-related crimes.

The trial began Monday as Special Prosecutor Jim Lesousky presented his opening statements to the jury, accusing Alexander of having lied under oath in order to obtain the indictment against Cherry and that police were angry that she hindered their investigation.

“They were angry that she did and angry that she told her 94 people in the neighborhood watch that she thought on the evening of July 8th, (2012), when this thing first happened, that she thought it was an African American,” Lesousky said. “Police were upset.”

Lesousky shared with the jury that the case revolves around HPD’s accusation that Cherry had convinced a victim in the prowler case to change her description of the prowler from a white male to a black male.

Lesousky asserted that those actions Cherry was accused of never happened, but Alexander lied during the grand jury presentation that they did.

“That never happened and that’s not just me telling you that and it’s not just Ann Cherry, who will tell you that here in a little bit,” Lesousky said to the jury.

“There was no written statement and there was no one Ann (Cherry) tried to convince to change their description of the prowler.”

Lesousky continued to argue that instead, Cherry had made a mistake regarding the prowler’s race after viewing surveillance footage and attempted to correct that mistake with both the neighborhood she lived in as well as with HPD.

Lesousky also argued that there was no evidence to show that Cherry had tampered with a witness or public records and Alexander stated there was during the grand jury presentation.

He stated to the jury that HPD accused Cherry of also hindering police from accessing the video surveillance of the prowler, but Lesousky asserted that the opposite actually occurred with Cherry providing the footage upon the police’s request.

Just before finishing his opening statements, Lesousky shared that Cherry’s case never went to trial as the commonwealth dismissed her charges after Cherry agreed not to re-run for her seat on the city council.

“Sounds like that’s all they wanted and they got it,” Lesousky said to the jury.

Lesousky also shared that the jury would hear testimony from Cherry herself as well as from Pryor and the FBI, who investigated the case against Alexander.

Alexander’s defense attorney Eric Eaton then began his opening statements in the trial, arguing the case is not about Cherry, but that it is about Alexander and three words he stated during his testimony in the grand jury presentation against Cherry.

“Eight years later, a newly-elected prosecutor decided to pursue an indictment against Jefferson Alexander based on that testimony and we’re going to talk about these questions a lot,” Eaton said.

“But, what you’ll see is what we’re talking about all week this week is three words that he said 10 years ago — ‘Yes,’ ‘Correct’ and ‘Yes.’ This trial is about getting inside Alexander’s head when he said ‘Yes,’ ‘Correct’ and ‘Yes.’ ”

Eaton continued to argue that the trial would be able to show the jury what Alexander’s intentions were when he testified and that he did not intend to mislead the jury or provide false information.

Eaton also shared that the jury would hear from Pryor and that she will admit during her testimony that she asked Alexander badly crafted questions during the grand jury presentation against Cherry.

“You’ll hear from Lynn Pryor and she will candidly tell you ‘I asked some kind of bad questions. I asked some confusing questions. I asked compound questions,’ ” Eaton said.

“She’ll tell you ‘I asked vague, confusing questions.’ And, when we look at these questions and look at ‘Yes,’ ‘Correct’ and ‘Yes,’ you’ll hear evidence that these questions are, in fact, compound, confusing, vague questions, some of which just ask him his opinion.”

Following both opening statements, Lesousky called his first and only witness for day one of the trial, Cherry.

Cherry testified Monday describing the timeline of events from her point of view regarding the prowler case, specifically how she had believed the prowler to be a black male when she first viewed surveillance footage of him.

Cherry recalled that a “code red alert” had been sent out for the area of her neighborhood, which described the prowler as a white man.

After seeing the alert she attempted to call HPD and inform them that she, as well as one of the victims in the case, believed the man to be black and wanted the alert to be corrected.

She continued to testify that after viewing the footage a second time in a larger and clearer format following the alert, that she could then tell the man was actually white. From there, she testified she attempted to correct her mistake with both the neighborhood watch and HPD.

Cherry’s testimony concluded the first day of Alexander’s trial.

However, she is set to continue testifying this morning at 8 a.m. to start of the second day of the trial.

CCPS bands reach finals together for first time
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The Christian County and Hopkinsville high school marching bands made history over the weekend as both squads advanced to the state finals for the first time ever.

Both schools had previously been to the state finals separately, but this was the first time they had ever both made it to the state finals together.

“The two bands from the western part of the state that were in the finals were from Christian County Public Schools,” said Hopkinsville High band director Grant Jones. “That is a testament to the resources that CCPS has put into our music programs.”

In order to make the finals, both schools had to finish in the top six bands in the state semifinals, which was held Saturday morning at Bourbon County High School in Paris.

In the semifinals, Christian County finished fourth, while Hopkinsville came in sixth in Class 4A.

“I thought we performed well in the semifinals, but at that point — it’s just up to the judges,” Christian County band director Anthony Darnall said. “I didn’t know for sure that we would make it.”

Daviess County had finished in a tie for first at the regional competition — ahead of Hopkinsville — but came in eighth in the semifinals and missed out on a chance to play in the finals.

Hopkinsville band director Grant Jones said he was very please with the way his band performed in the semifinals.

“I was incredibly happy with their semifinal performance,” Jones said. “The students really gave their best performance of the year. I was very, very confident in what the students did.”

The state finals were held Saturday night at the University of Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium. And both Christian County and Hopkinsville finished fourth and sixth again, respectively. Anderson County won the state championship.

“Playing at UK is the best thing about making state finals — when they walk onto the field and see the stands full,” Jones said. “Not many kids get to have in high school.”

It was the first time that Christian County had made the state finals in 26 years.

“It’s huge for us,” Darnall said. “That was the goal all year for us. We’ve been trying to get back to where the program was 25 years ago.”

Hoptown had been in the state finals as recently as 2018, which capped off a run of four straight years advancing to the finals.

Jones said he was glad that his team made it back — especially after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the band season a year ago.

“It was really evident this year that we hadn’t performed competitively in a while and there was an adjustment getting back to that,” Jones said. “But that made it a little extra special to make it to the state finals after not having a chance to do it last year.”

“It’s a great validation for all the hard work we’ve put in,” Darnall said. “We had a lot of alumni that didn’t get to have a season last year and they came back just to watch us. These kids have had a lot of ups and downs this year and this was a good way for them to end (their band season.)”

Kentucky governor makes case for COVID-19 booster shots
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FRANKFORT (AP) — Growing numbers of vaccinated Kentuckians have contracted COVID-19 and ended up in hospitals, signaling the importance of getting a booster dose, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.

The unvaccinated still represent the overwhelming majority of new virus-related cases and hospitalizations. But the percentage of vaccinated Kentuckians in those categories has risen, indicating their “waning immunity” over time and the need for the booster shot, Beshear said.

In May, 5% of new coronavirus cases in Kentucky were among fully vaccinated people, he said. By October, that rate had grown to 20% to 25%, reflecting the rise in breakthrough cases.

“I think when you look at this growth, the only natural explanation is that the immunity does lessen a little bit over time," the governor said at a news conference. "The delta variant is part of it, right? But this means you need to get your booster.”

Meanwhile, 92% of virus-related hospitalizations were among the unvaccinated for a prolonged period, he said. That rate dropped to 84% after including hospitalizations last month.

In Kentucky, 67% of people eligible to receive the vaccine have gotten at least their first dose, the governor said. People 12 and older are currently eligible for a vaccine.

“We need to push this more, but two-thirds of eligible Kentuckians isn't bad — we just know we have to do better,” Beshear said.

He stressed the effectiveness of the vaccines and said booster shots will provide the level of immunity to significantly reduce virus cases and hospitalizations among the vaccinated.

People ages 65 and older should get a booster, he said. Also eligible are people living in long-term group settings, those with underlying health conditions and those exposed to other people through work, the governor said. It also applies to recipients of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with a booster recommended for them at least two months after the vaccination.

The governor has predicted that booster shots eventually will become widespread.

In a three-day report, he announced 48 more virus-related deaths statewide from Saturday to Monday. Several were among people in their 30s and 40s, plus a person who was 24.

“Remember, the delta variant is killing younger and younger people,” the governor said in calling for higher vaccination rates among people in their 30s and 40s.

The number of COVID-19 cases has dropped for six straight weeks in Kentucky, he said.

The governor also reported continued declines in the number of virus-related hospitalizations, admissions to intensive care units and ventilator use. The state on Monday reported 772 virus patients hospitalized in Kentucky, including 249 in ICU units and 138 on ventilators.

The rate of Kentucky residents testing positive for the virus was 5.03% Monday, up slightly from the prior day, Beshear said. That ended a prolonged decline in the key indicator in tracking the virus.

Also, the 568 new virus cases reported Monday were up from the same day a week ago, and Beshear called it another statistic that bears watching.

“Our trends are going in the right direction," the governor said. "We just want to continue to beat COVID and to see it spread less here in the commonwealth.”


Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

There is a path over ever mountain
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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Despite the odds, Janice and her son De’Shaun Dail embody what it truly means to never give up no matter the circumstance.

Janice Dail, a Hopkinsville native, was a star athlete, who was forced to grow up earlier than she anticipated. At the mere age of 15, Janice became pregnant in high school.

“I remember laying on the couch, on my stomach and I had been asked, ‘When was your last cycle?’ Right in that moment, it hit me and I realized I hadn’t had one in months,” said Dail. “I was so active with sports it never dawned on me that a baby was brewing. After taking multiple tests at home and after my official doctors’ visit, I found out I was six months pregnant.”

Though being pregnant, it didn’t stop Janice from still having a successful sports career. She continued to play basketball and run track despite being with child. After having her son, and returning back to school, she earned her diploma at Hopkinsville High School. She continued her education and began her collegiate level of basketball at Berea College. Dail had finished a successful freshman year and was told the following year, her son would be allowed to live with her off campus. Going into Janice’s sophomore as she became settled back into her college classes whilst juggling being a mother, college athlete — just before the season kicked off, her coach told her that De’Shaun could no longer be with her or even attend their games. After receiving such devastating news Janice closed her hoop dreams and began anew focusing solely on being a mother and provider.

“I was upset that my career ended that way, but I closed the chapter and never tried my hand anywhere else. After Berea I focused simply on being a mother,” said Janice. “De’Shaun was always a good kid. He figured out pretty early on that listening to me worked wonders. He was also always good in school so I never had to stay on him about his grades. He told me at a young very age that he wanted to be an Oncologist. I always encouraged his dream and told him he could do it.”

The old saying, “apples don’t fall to far from the tree” stands the test of time in the case of Janice and De’Shaun. Back when Janice was in high school, she had made a name for herself playing basketball and De’Shaun followed suit making a name for himself as a star athlete in wrestling who played part in a program that notched back-to-back district titles, not to mention De’Shaun individually appearing in three consecutive Class 3A state tournaments.

After graduating Northwest High School, De’Shaun was accepted to Vanderbilt in the first early acceptance period. He then received his bachelor’s degree in physics with zero student debt, and now is currently taking part in biophysics research and plans to enter medical school the fall of 2022. De’Shaun has received secondary questions from some of the top prestigious intuitions in the U.S.

“I feel really blessed to be in my current position,” said De’Shaun. “I have a responsibility that I owe myself, family and to the community. I strive to give back to those who supported me. My mom means the world to me. She has helped me in so many ways. I hope I’m able to repay her time, love and commitment she has gave me to see me accomplish my goals.”

While De’Shaun awaits his next chapter, Janice continues to add pages in her own. Just before COVID hit in December 2019, Janice earned her Master’s Degree in Professional Studies in Strategic Leadership from Austin Peay University. She currently works with Superior Caregivers, where she acts as Associate Director of Foster Care.

Janice closed with a few words of encouragement. “I became a mother at a very young age. I didn’t look at raising my son as an option. I looked at it as a responsibility I had to uphold. Anyone that may be facing adversity, keep going. You will make it through. When you feel as though you’re already on the ground, there’s nowhere else to go, but up.”

Despite the difficulties that come with being raised in a single-parent household and the academic rigor of one of the country’s most prestigious schools, Clarksville native De’Shaun never wavered on his path to success.

When asked about facing adversity De’Shaun stated “The biggest enemy is yourself. There is nothing you can’t do if you believe in yourself. Times will get hard, it’s inevitable, but after those trials you become stronger each time.”

Challenges make life interesting, your path can change in an instant, overcoming those challenges make life much more meaningful. Their story is a reminder that though Janice became a teen mom with many doubts among her: nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible. Despite being a single mother, she has proudly raised De’Shaun to be a young black man en route to becoming a doctor.

Daniel Mativo produced a mini-documentary on Janice and De’Shaun heartfelt story. Check it out via YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNgNyeMmbYQ&t=467s