The man accused of a 2018 murder at a local motel in Hopkinsville was arraigned Wednesday morning in Circuit Judge John Atkins’ courtroom.
Terrance L. Stepp, 31, Madisonville, appeared in court via Zoom while being held at the Hopkins County Jail for his arraignment, while his defense attorney Michael Thompson appeared via Zoom from his office.
Thompson entered a not guilty plea on Stepp’s behalf as the pair begin reviewing evidence in the case as well as start to consider plea offers.
Atkins then scheduled the case for its first pretrial conference in early December.
“I’m going to set this out on an unusually long date,” Atkins said to the court.
“I’m doing that because of the seriousness of the charges and the possibility that there is a good bit of discovery (evidence) that’s going to have to be prepared, copied and generated. So, rather than have you all yo-yo-ing in and out of the courtroom two or three times between now and then, you can take care of anything that can be done by agreement or by administratively before we have the pretrial.”
Stepp is scheduled to appear for his first pretrial conference on Dec. 2.
Stepp is charged with one count of murder and accused in the murder of Tamara Dragoo.
According to New Era archives, on March 7, 2018, Dragoo was found murdered in a local Hopkinsville motel room. Hopkinsville police collected evidence and interviewed numerous people in the investigation.
After two years, HPD Detective Division were able to identify Stepp as the suspect in the murder and the case was presented to a Christian County grand jury, who concluded there was sufficient evidence in the case to charge Stepp, according to the archives.
In other court news, a man who plead guilty to a shooting case as well as a separate robbery case was sentenced to prison in Atkins’ courtroom.
Jacorey D. Majors, 23, Owensboro, appeared in the courtroom in person with his attorney Rick Sanborn to receive his final sentence.
Majors entered a guilty plea on Aug. 5 to both of his cases — one pertaining to 11 counts of first-degree wanton endangerment and the other pertaining to first-degree robbery involving two other individuals.
As for his robbery case, Majors was originally charged with first-degree robbery, but entered a guilty plea to the amended charge of second-degree robbery.
In Majors’ other case, he entered a guilty plea to 11 charges of first-degree wanton endangerment.
His robbery plea carried a recommended sentence of seven years while his wanton endangerment case carried three years for each charge, recommended to all to run concurrently for a total of three years.
The robbery case was recommended by the commonwealth to be served consecutive to his wanton endangerment case for a total sentence of 10 years in prison.
Despite the commonwealth’s recommendation as part of his plea, Sanborn requested on behalf of Majors that he be granted probation.
Sanborn shared that since Majors’ release from custody in October 2019, he had gotten a job, stayed out of trouble, complied with probation and parole and has a 9-month-old that he has enjoyed being able to take care of while out of prison.
He added that Majors realizes the seriousness of his offenses, takes responsibility and doesn’t want to diminish what he did.
Majors himself spoke to Atkins requesting that he be granted probation.
“I was asking that you consider any type of probation as, I would say, I’ll be working no less than 80 hours working full-time and I’ll be making significant money,” Majors said to the judge. “I’ll be approved for a house in a couple days with my fiance and my momma. I know what I did was wrong, I just ask that you give me the opportunity to continue to better myself.”
However, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jerad Smith said that the commonwealth is opposed to probation based on his criminal history.
“We think Mr. Majors shows a pattern of escalating behavior. His criminal history shows some assaults and I believe he had some assault charges as a juvenile as well,” Smith said.
“We’re now at the point that people are being held at gunpoint and in one of the cases, Mr. Majors shooting towards an occupied apartment, shooting towards several people.
“He’s a clear danger to the community and we don’t believe he can be successfully supervised.”
Atkins ultimately agreed with the commonwealth and sentenced him to 10 years in prison — three years on the wanton endangerment case and seven years on the robbery case.
“But, Mr. Sanborn, I expect a timely motion for shock probation to be filed in 30 days and I will look very closely as far as Mr. Majors’ shock probation.”
Shock probation refers to being released from custody while serving a final sentence to be served on probation for the remainder of that sentence.
Also in other court news, Terissa Stewart, 19, whose charged with second-degree rape (no force), entered a guilty plea Wednesday morning in her case.
Smith, who is prosecuting the case, shared that her plea carries a recommended sentence of five years, the commonwealth opposes probation, that she must complete a sex offender treatment program and register with the sex offender registry.
According to court reports, Stewart is accused of penetrating a 12-year-old victim with an object as well as inappropriately touching them.
Atkins scheduled her sentencing hearing for Oct. 28.