Two indicted in 2016 killing of Kenton County couple; prosecutor slams Bevin for pardon, commutation - NKyTribune (2024)

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders held a press conference Thursday to announce the indictment for murder of two men in the 2016 deaths of Charles Douglas Eapmon and Carolyn Ann Tomlinson.

Charles Elmer Eapmon and James Allen Eapmon were indicted Thursday by a Kenton County Grand Jury for murder and tampering with evidence.

Each faces 20-50 years or Life in Prison with enhanced sentencing for capital offenses also a possibility.

Charles Elmer Eapmon is in the Kenton County Detention Center where he’s being held without bond. James Allen Eapmon is serving a Federal sentence for drug trafficking and will be extradited to Kentucky to stand trial.

Sanders said prosecutors believe drugs were a partial motive in the killings.

“This is a complicated case and once this case eventually gets to trial it’s probably going to be the type of thing they write a book or make movies about,” Sanders said.

“It’s fascinating in terms of all the different complexities and variables and everything that go into the motive of this case. I think it would be accurate to say that part of the motivation revolved around the family drug dealing business.”

Sanders noted that Carolyn Ann Tomlinson is not alleged or suspected to have been a drug dealer.

“I think she only made the mistake of being in a relationship with Doug Eapmon,” Sanders said. “She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and eliminated because she would have been a witness to Doug’s murder.”

Both victims were shot in the head.

Charles Elmer Eapmon is an uncle to Douglas and James Allen Eapmon, who are cousins.

According to the indictment, “…between or about April 5, 2016 and April 6, 2016 in Kenton County, Kentucky, Charles Elmer Eapmon and James Allen Eapmon committed the offense of Complicity To Murder, a Capital Offense, when under circ*mstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, they, or another person, intentionally killed Carolyn Ann Tomlinson (and Charles Douglas Eapmon), or they wantonly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death to another person and thereby caused the death of Carolyn Ann Tomlinson (and Charles Douglas Eapmon)…”

The indictment continues:

“or where one, the other, or both of them, with the intention of promoting or facilitating the commission of the offense solicited or engaged in a conspiracy with the other(s) or other person(s) to engage in the conduct which caused the death of another person or a third person; or aided, counseled, or attempted to aid such other person or persons in planning or committing the offense; or having a legal duty to prevent the conduct that caused the death of such person or third person, failed to make a proper effort to do so…”

Sanders said the defendants have extensive criminal histories.

“Whether we push for enhanced punishment via the capital murder statute or whether we push for enhanced punishment pursuant to the persistent felony offender laws, I do anticipate there will be some possibility of enhanced punishment here,” Sanders said. “Whether or not we seek the death penalty is really the million dollar question. I don’t know that we’ll have an answer for that in the immediate future.”

Arraignment for Charles Elmer Eapmon is scheduled for Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. before Kenton Circuit Judge Patricia Summe in Courtroom 6A.

A Kenton County man convicted and sentenced to 23 years in prison for sexual assault of an Erlanger youth that began when she was 9 years old was pardoned by outgoing Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin as he left office.

Micah Schoettle was arrested in 2016 on several charges, including Rape in the First Degree, Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, and Sodomy in the First Degree.

The case was called for trial in May of this year and included a Daubert hearing, in which the Commonwealth presented evidence regarding the behavioral patterns of children who have been sexually abused.

The hearing was the first of its kind in the Commonwealth and allowed testimony to be presented at trial regarding delayed disclosure in cases of child sexual abuse.The jury deliberated for seven hours before finding Schoettle guilty and recommending the 23-year sentence.

In July, Judge Patricia Summe accepted the recommendation of the jury.

Sanders said Bevin’s decision to pardon Schoettle is offensive.

“The comments that our former governor made in connection, or in the pardon that he actually wrote for Micah Schoettle, are offensive,” Sanders said. “They are offensive to the victims, they are offensive to the criminal justice system in itself, they are offensive to law enforcement and certainly to prosecutors.”

According to Sanders, Bevin never contacted anyone from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, law enforcement, or the victims.

“I have a very hard time believing he (Bevin) knew anything other than what Micah Schoettle wanted him to know about the case before he issued this pardon and it shocks the conscience,” Sanders said. “It’s mind-boggling how any governor could be this irresponsible, it’s an abomination of the criminal justice system. It’s a sad day for Kentucky, not just in the Micah Schoettle case, but in a number of different rape cases, child molesting cases, murder cases, where the victims have all been done a grave injustice.”

Sanders has supported Bevin in the past and says he believed in him, but regrets that now.

“I’m disgusted in myself for having done so,” Sanders said. “I didn’t think the 23-year sentence was enough time, but I accepted the jury’s recommendation.”

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Maria Schletker, who prosecuted the case, handled the unpleasant task of calling the victim’s mother to inform her of Bevin’s decision.

“She had a closer relationship with her than I did, so I thought that was appropriate,” Sanders said. “Prosecutors all across Kentucky today are disgusted with Matt Bevin, offended by Matt Bevin, and rightfully so. There are victims that have been victimized again all across Kentucky and it’s just not right.”

Because Schoettle has been pardoned, he is not under supervision and does not have to register as a sex offender.

Sanders also weighed in on Bevin’s decision to commute the death sentence of Gregory Wilson to life in prison.

In 1987 Wilson was convicted of the kidnapping, rape and murder of Deborah Pooley of Covington.

According to trial testimony, Wilson snatched Pooley at knifepoint outside of her apartment. Wilson’s girlfriend, Brenda Humphrey, who has since been released from prison, was with Wilson and drove the car as he raped Pooley.

Pooley’s naked body was discovered in a field. She had been strangled to death.

“I think Mr. Wilson is probably the most sad*stic killer in the history of Kenton County and he was right where he deserved to be, on death row,” Sanders said. “I know his case has been well covered, that there were irregularities, for lack of a better term, in the course of how that case has gone on appeal. If the governor had only commuted the sentence and given him life in prison without parole, I could have actually understood that.”

Making Wilson immediately eligible for parole, Sanders said, is just ridiculous and it puts the citizens of wherever he were ends up, if he were to get parole, at risk.

Sanders said Wilson was on parole for a rape in Ohio at the time he killed Pooley and believes he was a suspect in other cases. He urged prosecutors to dust of those cases and to go after Wilson if there is evidence he committed those crimes.

“He doesn’t ever need to get out of prison,” Sanders said. “I know I will be at every parole hearing he ever gets to do my best to make sure he stays locked up.”

The commutation of his sentence makes Wilson eligible for parole immediately, because of the time he has already served.

Sanders said Bevin’s questionable decisions in some cases also does an injustice to those who may have deserved to be pardoned.

“It’s a shame because there are a few people out there that got pardons, that were deserving, that have made a positive change in their life and their communities,” Sanders said. “Those people should be celebrated and congratulated and their success is being overshadowed by all of this injustice.”

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com


Two indicted in 2016 killing of Kenton County couple; prosecutor slams Bevin for pardon, commutation - NKyTribune (2024)

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