The Richmond Register

November 17, 2013

Court denies appeal to overturn 2007 murder conviction

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — An appeal to withdraw a man’s guilty plea in a 2006 murder case was denied by the Kentucky Court of Appeals earlier this month.

Tony C. Hodge was convicted of murdering Margaret Jackson and shooting and stabbing Mitchell Turner on Jan. 29, 2006. Another man, Doug Hall, also was convicted as an accomplice.

Hodge pleaded guilty in September 2007 after the commonwealth’s attorney announced he would be seeking the death penalty, according to court documents.

During the hearing at which he pleaded guilty, Hodge said he and Hall told the victims they were coming to sell them drugs, but in reality, the men planned on robbing the couple.

Hodge admitted during his change-of-plea hearing that he and Hall got “real high” and after they entered the home “things went wrong” and he “made a bad judgment call,” according to court documents.

Two attorneys from the Department of Public Advocacy, Valetta Browne and Sam Cox, were appointed as Hodge’s attorneys. Later, after the commonwealth filed intent to seek the death penalty, another attorney with capital-case experience, Jerry Gilbert, was added to the defense team, according to court documents.

In 2009, Hodge filed a motion arguing that his attorneys were ineffective and the trial court was biased. Madison Circuit Court Judge Jean C. Logue entered an order in November 2011 denying Hodge’s motion to alter, amend or vacate his guilty plea.

Hodge argued in his appeal that being under the influence of drugs at the time of the crime could have been a possible defense at trial, which his attorneys did not fully investigate.

However, the appeals court noted that he said he made a “bad judgment call” when he admitted to the murder, “indicating he knew he had choices on January 26, 2006, and made the wrong one,” the appeals court wrote.

The state appeals court affirmed Logue’s ruling, stating Hodge’s signed waiver at the time he entered his guilty plea states that he told his attorneys all the facts and surrounding circumstances of the case.

“During his guilty plea colloquy, Hodge stated he was satisfied with the advice given by this attorneys and had no complaints about their representation,” the appeals court noted.

Hodge can still appeal his case to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.