The two men accused on the 2016 Ghost Bridge murder appeared in court Thursday morning via Zoom to be scheduled for one additional pretrial conference before the case is scheduled for trial or the defendants take pleas.
Leonardo Miller, 25, and Dequavion James, 22, both appeared in Judge John Atkins’ courtroom via Zoom.
James was the first to appear while his defense attorney, David Rye appeared in-person in the courtroom and requested that the case be continued for two weeks.
Christian County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Boling, who is prosecuting the case, shared an update with the court on the case prior to a new pretrial conference date being scheduled.
“We’ve had some discussions about a plea, but nothing has been accepted at this point,” Boling said to the court.
On that date, Rye said the case would either be scheduled for trial or defendants would possibly reach a resolution by plea deal, if he and his client were given enough time to consider pleas.
“I’d love to take another stab at (reaching a resolution) and I’ll certainly get with Mr. Boling on that,” Rye said to the judge. “We did have some discussions and we’ll see if there’s any further ones in a relatively appropriate time.”
Ultimately, Atkins allowed the court two weeks to discuss plea deals or the case would be scheduled for trial at the next pretrial conference.
The case was continued to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 24.
Atkins added that he had reviewed a bond reduction motion submitted by Rye on behalf of James, but due to its short notice, he would give the commonwealth until the next pretrial conference to respond.
James’ codefendant Miller appeared shortly after James to be advised of the continuance of their case.
According to New Era archives, Miller and James are accused of the murder and robbery of De’Andre Palmer before dumping his body by Ghost Bridge near Carter Road in Oak Grove in July 2016.
Both are charged with murder, first-degree robbery and tampering with physical evidence.
In other court news:
The man who is accused of shooting another man during a domestic dispute in March 2019 appeared in Atkins’ courtroom to hear two motions filed on his behalf.
De’Thaniel Thompson, 42, Hopkinsville, appeared in court via Zoom while at the Christian County Jail. His defense attorney Michael Thompson also appeared via Zoom from his office.
Atkins shared with the court that he had reviewed the bond reduction motion filed by Thompson and the commonwealth’s response, and without discussion, the judge denied the bond reduction motion.
“Seeing nothing new that makes me feel that I need to reconsider my earlier, multiple rulings on the issue, the motion to reduce bond is denied,” Atkins said to the court.
Thompson’s defense attorney also submitted a motion for a speedy and public trial to which Atkins said that he granted, as long as the commonwealth was not opposed and proposed that the trial be scheduled for between Oct. 5 through Oct. 16.
However, that motion did present some issues for Thompson’s trial.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Bolen, who is prosecuting the case, shared that the commonwealth would only be able to try two of the charges in the case: Thompson’s two charges of convicted felon in possession of a handgun.
Bolen explained that the victim in the case was flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and that the hospital requires a 90-day notice for the subpoenas of the medical staff that tended to the victim to appear in court for a trial.
Due to that, she said the commonwealth would not be able to try Thompson’s other charges, including first-degree assault until after the 90-day period Vanderbilt requires.
Atkins proposed that the court simply use the medical records supplied to the commonwealth instead of subpoenaing the medical staff for trial testimony. Bolen said she would approve of that if the defense did not object.
“As long as (the medical records) follow the rules of evidence, and if they don’t follow the rules of evidence and are not certified, then I’m going to object, but if they follow the rules of evidence and are allowed to be in, then they are allowed in,” Michael Thompson said to the judge.
Bolen then shared that she would require some time to review the medical records to make sure that they do fall under the rules of evidence.
“In order to comply with the (Kentucky Revised) Statutes, the records have got to be certified to the clerk of the court,” Atkins said to the court. “So, if you don’t have a hard copy that has been sent to the clerk, then that’s what’s going to have to happen.
“We’re going to revisit this on Monday, the 14th and I want to know what’s going on with it and if you persist in your option or election to try the handgun case alone then we’ll take that up then, too.”
Atkins then recessed the hearing until another pretrial conference for Sept. 15 after Michael Thompson shared a scheduling conflict for Monday.
According to New Era archives, De’Thaniel Thompson is accused of allegedly shooting Leandre Watkins in the right leg. Thompson also reportedly hit multiple vehicles in the area where he fired shots at Leandre and Bernette Watkins. Bernette is Thompson’s girlfriend, the archives noted.
Thompson then fled the area and threw the gun around Cypress Street, according to police reports.
Thompson was later arrested and charged with first-degree assault, tampering with physical evidence, second-degree criminal mischief, three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, fourth-degree assault and two counts of possession of a handgun by convicted felon.
After Thompson was taken to the Hopkinsville police department, Bernette reported to officers that on Wednesday, Thompson came home after work and held her at gunpoint while accusing her of cheating.
The report states that Thompson came to the home after work when Bernette was cooking in the kitchen. Thompson then went in the bedroom and fired a shot.
Bernette reported that she then began walking toward the bedroom, and Thompson came out of the room, pointing the gun at her.
Thompson allegedly forced her to sit down at the kitchen table with her hands on the table. He then sat at the table with the gun pointed at her refusing to let her leave.
While arguing, Thompson fired another shot at the floor while yelling at Bernette. He then held the gun close to her head before firing an additional shot at the floor, according to the report.
Bernette reported that Thompson continued to hold her at gunpoint for an additional 30 minutes.
Thompson is a convicted felon prior to both of these shootings for a charge of first-degree burglary in 2003, the reports added.