By: Jack Latta firstname.lastname@example.org
August 15, 2013
PRESTONSBURG — It will take a little longer before a jury gets to consider the fate of a Prestonsburg couple charged in the 2011 death a 2-year-old boy in their care.
Attorneys for Jason and Gladys Dickerson recently filed motions for a continuance in their trial for the murder of their nephew Watson Adkins, pushing the trial date back to early 2014.
Their trial had been scheduled next week, but a motion filed last week by the attorney for Gladys Dickerson sought to continue the trial due to the unavailability of expert witnesses to be present in August. Floyd County Circuit Court Judge Johnny Ray Harris issued an order Monday pushing the start of the trial to Feb. 10.
Jason Dickerson’s attorney also entered a “motion in limine or in alternative for severance” last week, stating that attorneys for Gladys Dickerson have “filed notice indicating she intends to introduce evidence of some sort related to the ‘Battered Spouse Syndrome.’” The motion requests that the court either choose to suppress this evidence until the sentencing phase of the case, or to sever the defendant’s case as, “presumably, the Co-Defendant, Gladys Dickerson, intends to offer evidence of other alleged bad acts of this defendant in support of her allegation that she is a battered spouse.”
Commonwealth’s Attorney Arnold Brent Turner said that this motion by Jason Dickerson’s attorney has been overruled, but may come up again as the trial gets closer.
“We believe the defendants should be tried together,” said Turner. “That’s how the indictment was written up, and it will be up to the jury to decide if anyone is guilty, and of what.”
Gladys Dickerson’s attorneys also entered several motions seeking to suppress evidence, including crime scene photos, autopsy photos, social workers records, and the statements by child witnesses, namely the siblings of Watson Adkins. The attorneys argue that much of this information will either duplicate testimony or is intended to prejudice the jury. In general, it is not permissible to introduce social worker reports or witness statements as evidence, as this is considered hearsay. Should those reports or statements contain information pertinent to the trial, then the originators of those reports or statements are called in to testify.
The Dickersons — Jason, 31, and Gladys, 27, both of Prestonsburg — were indicted in November 2011. The two were indicted individually on charges of first-degree murder, as well as four counts of first-degree child abuse related to Watson and his siblings.
The case has had a far reaching impact, having already triggered an Attorney General’s opinion, following a complaint lodged by The Mountain Citizen against the Cabinet For Health and Family Services. The cabinet failed to comply with a request for information about the Adkins case filed under the Open Records Act. In the decisions, Attorney General Jack Conway stated that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services violated procedural and substantive requirements of the Open Records Act in partially denying a request for records relating to child placement and subsequent child fatality.
Rhoda Adkins-Lewis, sister of Gladys Dickerson, lost custody of Watson Adkins and his three siblings due to legal issues stemming from substance abuse. The four children were placed in the custody of the Dickersons in March of 2011.
Following the death of Watson Adkins, his mother claimed that she had contacted social services several times about her children being abused by the Dickersons.