July 22, 2013
by Cris Ritchie — Editor
HAZARD – The Perry County grand jury is investigating the death of an inmate at the Kentucky River Regional Jail earlier this month.
Detectives with the Kentucky State Police opened an initial investigation after 54-year-old Larry Trent was involved in an altercation with staff at the Hazard jail on July 9. Trent was found unresponsive in his cell in the hours after the fight, and later pronounced dead at the Hazard ARH medical center. According to a preliminary report issued last week by the state medical examiner’s office, Trent had sustained injures as the result of a “jail beating” which included blunt impact to the head and body, along with “skeletal and visceral injuries.”
Perry County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Hansen said he invited KSP investigators to appear before the grand jury on Friday as the jury began its own investigation into the circumstances of Trent’s death. He noted the incident involved multiple individuals and there exist a lot of variables “which are concerning and should be concerning to the general public.”
Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble said last week the deputy jailers involved in the incident at the jail have been suspended while an investigation is ongoing. As of yet, however, no warrants have been issued and no charges have been filed, which Hansen noted as one reason investigators were invited on Friday.
“Typically, probably a good 70 to 75 percent of criminal proceedings start with warrants obtained from the county attorney,” Hansen said. “That had not yet been done.”
Though an official cause in Trent’s death has not been released, and may not be for a few more weeks, his daughter, Jennifer Brewer, told WYMT-TV in Hazard she believes her father was murdered.
Hansen said on Monday he expects others will be called on to appear before the grand jury as its investigation continues, and subpoenas could be issued as early as this week.
“This is something the grand jury needed to be apprised of, obviously, this issue concerning a death of an inmate,” Hansen noted. “The grand jury is more than entitled to look into such things, especially when nothing else is being done.”