The Richmond Register

September 20, 2012

Trial dates set in three homicides

Family, friends of victims crowd courtroom at hearings

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — The audience was awash in white, neon-green and yellow T-shirts Wednesday afternoon as the family members and friends of three homicide victims attended court hearings for people accused of being responsible for those deaths.

Besides sharing the pain of a loved one’s violent death and T-shirts emblazoned with the victims’ photos, the audience also was linked by the fact one man — 28-year-old Matthew Denholm — has been accused of murdering all three people.

Judges Jean Chenault Logue and William Clouse set trial dates well into 2013 for both cases.

Denholm and his co-defendant, Patrick Keene, 26, accused of killing Sonsaray “Sonsi” Warford,  and Charles “Chew” Walker in June 2010, are set to be tried Aug. 12. The case will last at least two weeks, according to both the prosecutors and defense attorneys.

“Aug. 12 would allow us two to three weeks without any interruptions from other court activity,” Judge Logue said.

According to preliminary hearing testimony from Richmond Police Detective William O’Donnell, Denholm and Keene, who are both Army war veterans, were hired to kill Walker because he allegedly stole money from a local drug dealer. Warford was Walker’s girlfriend, and he was at her home when Keene and Denholm came for Walker.

O’Donnell testified that Keene and Denholm shot and stabbed the couple, who were both 30 years old when they died. They were buried in a field off Tates Creek Road, O’Donnell said.

Using information obtained in a federal drug-trafficking case, the police found the couple’s bodies in March, 21 months after they had been reported missing by family members.

Judge Logue asked attorneys when the bodies could be released to their families. Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith said the Kentucky State Police Lab was still working to establish DNA profiles on the remains.

A status hearing has been set in the case for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 16.

Zackary Flower’s case

In the next case’s hearing, Matthew Denholm was joined by his brother, Ryan Denholm, 31, along with Sherry Bratten, 32, and Randall Burgess Jr., 18.

When the four defendants walked into the courtroom, Laurie Flower held up a large picture of her son, Zackary Flower. Several of the defendants glanced more than once at the photograph.

Flower and her husband, Mark, have traveled from their home in Lynchburg, Va., more than once to attend court hearings. Other family members and friends also have traveled from several other distant states to be present for the proceedings.

Judge Clouse set the trial in that case to start July 8, and it is expected to take two weeks.

Matthew Denholm is accused of entering the Berea apartment of Flower, 25, and Kevin Price on Nov. 21 and shooting the roommates, killing Flower. Price was severely injured during the incident.

Flower, Price and Denholm had been involved in a confrontation the previous night, according to the Berea police.

Matthew Denholm, accompanied by his brother Ryan and Bratten, Ryan’s girlfriend, then left Madison County after the shooting and were tracked to Louisville where they were arrested later that day, the police reported.

Ryan Denholm is accused of providing his brother with the deer rifle used in the shooting and is charged with murder. Bratten and Burgess, who police say allowed his car to be used to commit the killing, have been each been charged with facilitation to commit murder.

Commonwealth's Attorney David Smith said he has not yet made a decision on whether to seek the death penalty in either the Flower case or the Warford and Walker double-homicide case.