Judge sets trial dates for Goodrum, Soules

Shawntaye Hopkins

It’s been about 10 months since Pellville freshman Melissa “Katie” Autry was attacked in her Poland Hall room.

And about 10 months have passed since Autry died from third degree burns.

Two men were charged with her murder – 10 months ago.

Now, the hearings and preparations for trial might be nearing an end.

Daviess Circuit Court Judge Tom Castlen set trial dates at a status conference yesterday for the two Scottsville men charged in May with Autry’s murder.

But the dates will depend on another case in another courtroom.

The jury selection for Stephen L. Soules’ trial has been scheduled for July 30. The jury selection for Lucas B. Goodrum’s trial has been scheduled for Jan. 7.

Both trials would begin the following Mondays after the jury selection dates.

“We expected a trial date to be set today, but it’s our opinion that it is way too soon,” said Renae Tuck, director of the public defender’s office in Bowling Green.

Yesterday was the first hearing held since Tuck was appointed in October to represent Soules. Tuck said she has not had enough time to prepare for the case.

Tuck is also representing another man charged with murder whose trial is set to begin on July 13, she said. That trial is expected to last about two weeks.

Jamin Roberson of Bowling Green is facing life without parole and has been held in the Warren County Regional Jail since February 2003, Tuck said.

Castlen told Tuck to attempt to have Warren Circuit Court Judge John Grise change the trial date for Roberson to accommodate Soules’ trial.

Tuck said she doesn’t think Grise will change the date unless Roberson agrees.

Castlen said Soules and Goodrum’s trials should be moved to the “front burner.”

“We just need to really push and everybody’s going to have to give a little bit,” he said.

Goodrum’s attorney, David Broderick, is ready for trial. He said he’d accept the July 30 date if Tuck couldn’t.

“I’m ready to try the case this week, next week or any time this summer,” Broderick said.

Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Chris Cohron said they have the right to pick which of the two men will be tried first.

They’ve chosen Soules, he said.

Cohron said he is hopeful that the July and January dates will stand.

Cohron said it would still be a reasonable amount of time for a death penalty case if Soules’ trial were pushed to January 2005 and Goodrum was tried 16 to 20 days later.

Both Goodrum and Soules have been in custody without bond at the Warren County Regional Jail since May. Broderick also made another attempt to have bond set for Goodrum.

Broderick said Goodrum’s constitutional right to a speedy trial is being violated.

Broderick said the only evidence against Goodrum is statements made by Soules.

Commonwealth Attorney Mike Pearson said the only outstanding evidence needed for trial is lab results on some hair. He expects results from Frankfort in about two weeks.

Castlen said Goodrum’s bond is being considered by the Court of Appeals.

Broderick also presented Castlen with information regarding a United States Supreme Court ruling that was decided on March 8.

Crawford v. Washington prohibits the use of statements made out of court, Broderick said. Testimonies must be made on the stand for cross-examination.

Castlen said he will consider the court case.

Pretrial hearings for Soules’ trial will be held on April 27 and June 29. Hearings will be held on Oct. 20 and Dec. 8 to prepare for Goodrum’s trial.

Both men pleaded not guilty in July to charges related to Autry’s murder.

Autry was raped, sodomized and set on fire on May 4 in her dorm room. She died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville on May 7.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]