Saturday, August 10, 2002

Craven lawyers prepare defense

Trial is moving to Lexington

By Jim Hannah,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A judge Friday gave a glimpse of what the trial of Adele Craven might be like since she granted a change of venue. The capital-murder trial is moving 80 miles south to Lexington.

Adele Craven
Adele Craven
        Kenton County Circuit Judge Patricia Summe said she will preside over the trial, but it will be held in a Lexington courtroom before a jury of Fayette County residents. The judge ruled last month that Ms. Craven couldn't get a fair trial in Kenton County because of intense pretrial publicity. Her husband's homicide even made headlines in supermarket tabloids.

        The judge, defense attorneys from Covington and prosecutors from Frankfort will travel to Lexington on Oct. 25 for a final motion hearing. On Oct. 28, jury selection will begin. Opening arguments are slated for Oct. 31. Judge Summe speculated the trial could be completed by Nov. 8, but defense attorneys said it could last “considerably longer.”

        Ms. Craven will be moved from the Kenton County Detention Center to a jail in Lexington by the middle of September.

        Ms. Craven's husband, Delta Air Lines pilot Stephen Craven, was found shot and beaten to death in his Edgewood home in July 2000. Ms. Craven's reputed lover, Rusty McIntire, pleaded guilty in June 2001 for his part in the slaying. He agreed to cooperate with authorities in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.

        Ronald Scott Pryor was found guilty of murder in April after an 11-day trial. Prosecutors said Mr. Pryor was the hired triggerman. The jury recommended the death penalty, but Judge Summe will have the final say during formal sentencing scheduled Dec. 5 in Covington.

        Another Kenton County case had been scheduled to move this summer to Lexington, also because of pretrial publicity. That case involved Fred Furnish, charged with the murder of a Kenton Hills seamstress. Mr. Furnish entered a guilty plea before the relocated trial could start.

        Legal experts say it isn't that uncommon across Kentucky, but it is a rarity in Kenton County, where courthouse clerks cannot recall a previous time a change of venue was granted in a criminal trial.

        During part of Friday's hearing, never-before revealed evidence was discussed. Ms. Craven's defense team, Covington attorneys Deanna Dennison and Linda Smith, said two hairs with similar characteristics to their client's were found covered in blood near the crime scene. Ms. Craven has maintained she was not at home the morning of her husband's murder.

        Ms. Dennison argued that the hairs were improperly collected, transported and tested by detectives. She said the hairs could have been contaminated.


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