STANTON, Ky. – A prosecutor said Tuesday that she would seek the death penalty for a man charged with killing a small-town eastern Kentucky police chief.
Attorneys for James Barnett entered a not guilty plea for Barnett a capital murder charge in the death of Clay City Police Chief Randy Lacy, who was fatally shot while taking Barnett to jail in a squad car June 13.
At Barnett's arraignment, Commonwealth's Attorney Lynn Herald said she plans to prosecute the slaying as a "capital offense and seek the death penalty."
Barnett, who was indicted June 22 on charges of capital murder, escape and theft, was escorted into the courtroom under heavy security. Several members of the Barnett and Lacy families were present, including Lacy's brother Garland Lacy, who served as the court bailiff for the proceedings.
Marcus Jones, one of Barnett's court-appointed attorneys, said he was surprised prosecutors pushed for the death penalty.
"It's supposed to be a matter of last resort," Jones said.
Barnett said in an interview last month with The Associated Press that he didn't remember the shooting because he was high on drugs, and that he would exchange his life for Lacy's if he could. He also didn't know how he got the gun. Officials have said Barnett's hands were cuffed in front rather than behind his back.
A coroner said Lacy was shot point-blank in the back of his head with a single bullet fired from his own gun. The car collided with a stop sign and rolled into a ditch, allowing Barnett to try to escape through a window, police said.