Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Four deny roles in murders

Possible motive still mystery

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BROOKSVILLE, Ky. — Four Northern Kentucky residents pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday to roles in the shooting deaths of two Dixie Heights High School graduates at a rural Bracken County farmhouse.

[photo] Russell W. Malapelli enters court.
(Patrick Reddy photos)
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        Douglas E. Baker Jr., 20, and Ronald Leslie Kirk, 23, both of Covington's Latonia neighborhood, pleaded not guilty during their arraignment Tuesday on two counts each of murder and four counts each of tampering with physical evidence. The two are being held without bail at the Mason County Detention Center.

        Kentucky State Police documents filed with the court claim that the two men had stated under questioning their roles in the Dec. 16 killings and that two other people said they had helped destroy evidence.

        Also arraigned on four counts of tampering with physical evidence were Dawn Renee Duffy, 18, of Bellevue and Russell W. Malapelli, 27, of Dayton, Ky.

        Ms. Duffy is being held in lieu of $250,000 cash bond at the Mason County Detention Center.

        Mr. Malapelli was already in custody at the Kenton County Detention Center on unrelated charges when he was charged in connection to the double homicide. His bail on the Bracken County charges is set at $500,000.

[photo] Douglas E. Baker Jr. (left) and Ronald L. Kirk (right) are arraigned.
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        The four appeared in jail jumpsuits and shackles at their arraignment in Bracken County District Court in Brooksville. They said nothing. Relatives of the four, many of whom were in the courtroom, declined to comment.

        The bodies of Dixie Heights High School graduates Ryan Eric Matchison, 22, of Florence, and Adam C. Harvey, 20, of Elsmere were discovered Dec. 17 near a boat ramp off Ky. 8 in rural Bracken County by a passing motorist. Both had been shot and their bodies wrapped in sleeping bags and a tarpaulin.

        Prosecutors remained silent about a motive for the killings, which they said took place at a farmhouse owned by the Harvey family, about 15 miles from where the bodies were found.

        Kentucky State Police reports on file at the Bracken County Courthouse, however, reveal Mr. Kirk “confessed to taking the life of Ryan Matchison and Adam Harvey by shooting them with a gun” when questioned by detectives at the Covington Police station.

[photo] Dawn R. Duffy reflects.
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        Bracken County Attorney Coroner John G. Parker said the two victims were each shot twice — Mr. Matchison was hit in the chest and Mr. Harney was hit in the back.

        Mr. Kirk's attorney, Tom Griffiths of the Maysville defender's office, said his client was not guilty, but wouldn't comment on his client's alleged statement.

        Mr. Baker also “confessed to the murders of Adam Harvey and Ryan Matchison” according to the same police reports, witnessed by state police Detective Steve Auvenshine.

        Attorney John Delaney of the Covington public defender's office, who is representing Mr. Baker, said: “I'm not convinced that my client confessed to murder from what I've seen.”

        More details in the case, including the motive, are expected to come out during a preliminary hearing scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday at the Bracken County Courthouse.

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