Autry case judge issues gag order

Shawntaye Hopkins

No forensic evidence has been found against one of the men charged with the murder of a Western student in May, but that might change when more evidence is tested in the next few weeks.

Lab technicians have not yet tested hair samples that could serve as evidence against Lucas B. Goodrum, 22, commonwealth’s attorney Mike Pearson said during a hearing on Tuesday.

Goodrum and Stephen L. Soules, 21, both of Scottsville, were charged in May with the murder of Pellville freshman Melissa “Katie” Autry. They pleaded not guilty in June to all charges.

But Soules later pleaded guilty to murder, rape, sodomy and arson charges on March 23. He will serve life in prison without parole after testifying against Goodrum in court as part of a plea agreement.

Pearson said he was notified on April 22 that lab technicians in Frankfort did not have enough head and pubic hair samples to do a microscopic examination.

Pearson told Daviess Circuit Court Judge Tom Castlen that all evidence would be back from the lab in two weeks at a hearing on March 15.

It may now take three weeks for the lab to complete testing after the commonwealth attorneys’ office submits more hair samples, he said.

Castlen has been brought in to serve as judge because of possible conflicts of interest with judges from the Warren Circuit Court.

Goodrum’s attorney, David Broderick, motioned to have the evidence denied because it was not received on time.

Goodrum’s trial is scheduled to begin on July 30.

“It is not fair, it is patently unconstitutional, for the commonwealth to hold something for 11 months and say ‘oops we didn’t get everything,'” Broderick said of the evidence.

Castlen denied the motion, saying the evidence could be very significant if it matches Goodrum.

Broderick requested a statement from the lab technician regarding the reason hair samples did not undergo microscopic examination.

Both attorneys and Castlen are expected to participate in a telephone conversation with the technician within the next few days.

“I don’t really see how it could have been avoided,” Pearson said.

A gag order was also issued by Castlen, saying both sides should refrain from making comments to the media about the case because the trial date is drawing closer.

Broderick had made a motion asking that the commonwealth attorneys not be allowed to make statements to the media about the guilt of Goodrum.

“This case has gotten enough attention,” Castlen said.

Cameras will also not be allowed in the courtroom.

Autry was raped, sodomized and set on fire in her Poland Hall dorm room on May 4. She died from third-degree burns on May 7 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]