Grand Jury indicts Burnside pastor on 3 counts of murder
by Chris Harris Commonwealth Journal
Danville, KY —
A preliminary hearing in the case of the Burnside pastor accused of killing the owners of a Danville pawn shop had been scheduled Wednesday. However, that changed when Kenneth Allen Keith was indicted on three counts of murder earlier in the week.
A Boyle County grand jury returned the indictment on Monday, which also charges Keith with first-degree robbery and burglary counts, according to information from the Danville Advocate-Messenger newspaper.
As such, Keith’s next court appearance will be on Tuesday, November 5, an arraignment in Boyle County Circuit Court.
Keith’s defense attorney, Somerset’s Mark Stanziano, said that there were no harmful ramifications from this development for his client. He framed the move as a sort of stall tactic by the prosecution.
“I wouldn’t give me a chance to cross-examine a copy at a preliminary in a circumstantial evidence case,” said Stanziano. “It is a circumstantial evidence case. Any holes we start poking in it now would start hurting the narrative that they (the prosecution) are trying to get people to believe.
“I think they don’t want to lose control,” he added. “They want to get another document out there (saying) that (Keith) is charged again, so (it looks more like) he must be guilty before there’s any presentation of any sort.”
Keith, 48, a pastor at Main Street Baptist Church in Burnside, was arrested on Wednesday Oct. 9 at Gold Rush Gold Buyers, his Somerset-based store.
He is charged in connection with the Sept. 20 deaths of Michael Hockensmith, 35, Angela Hockensmith, 38, and Daniel P. Smith, 60.
Keith knew the Hockensmiths, who owned the ABC Gold, Games and More with co-owner Steven Devine, which is the Danville store where they and Smith were gunned down.
The indictment of a person by a grand jury is an accusation only, and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty or otherwise pleads guilty.
Keith pleaded not guilty at an earlier arraignment last week in Boyle District Court, via video from the Boyle County Detention Center.
Stanziano maintains his client’s innocence, stating again that Keith was not present at the Hockensmiths’ store at the time of the shootings.
“Nothing’s been given to us yet,” said Stanziano of any additional evidence against his client, after the defense attorney stated following Keith’s arrest that he didn’t know of any evidence that existed. “They would have to put some of that forward at the preliminary hearing. Now that that’s been canceled, they still have time before they have to come forward (with any evidence).”
Stanziano expects his client to plead not guilty again at the Nov. 5 arraignment and said he will likely have “several motions filed that request various relief.”
According to an article in the Advocate-Messenger, Boyle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Bottoms said that the grand jury met last Wednesday in a regular session and reconvened Monday to hear additional information in the case against Keith, which reportedly involved more detail than a typical case. Bottoms also said that police had been on the case “about 24 hours a day for the last few weeks” gathering evidence, according to the newspaper.
The Advocate-Messenger reported that during the searches executed after Keith’s arrested, authorities seized a number of firearms, different types of ammunition, “suspected blood” samples, and several computers, cell phones and other electronic devices. Also, over $100,000 in cash was found in the Gold Rush store, according to court records.