Autry case gets new judge

Shawntaye Hopkins

A judge will travel from Daviess County to Warren County to hear the cases of two men charged with murder.

Daviess Circuit Court Judge Tom Castlen will preside over the trials of the Scottsville men charged with the murder of Pellville freshman Melissa “Katie” Autry last May.

No trial dates have been set.

Castlen received notice of the appointment by mail on Tuesday from Chief Regional Judge Kelly Easton.

Lucas B. Goodrum and Stephen L. Soules, both of Scottsville, have been indicted on charges related to Autry’s murder and remain in Warren County Regional Jail.

Warren Circuit Court Judges Steve Wilson and John Grise were unable to handle the cases.

“Judges have to avoid even an appearance of any impropriety,” Easton said.

Wilson said judicial ethics prohibit him from handling the case.

“I couldn’t ethically handle any of the cases that occurred while I was Commonwealth’s attorney,” he said.

Grise has had partnerships with people who have represented Western in civil litigation, Easton said.

Judge Joe Huddleston also handled the cases temporarily after Judge Tom Lewis was appointed to the Court of Appeals last year.

Soules and Goodrum’s separate trials will remain in Warren County, Easton said.

Renae Tuck, director of the public defender’s office in Bowling Green, said she doesn’t know when trial dates will be set. Tuck will represent Soules.

A status conference will be held at 9 a.m. on March 15 to lay out plans with the new judge.

Goodrum’s attorney, David Broderick, could not be reached for comment.

Tuck said although she has never practiced in front of Castlen before, she is pleased that the plans for a judge have been finalized.

Tuck said she has always known Wilson would not be able to preside over the trial, but didn’t know about Grise’s situation until about 10 days ago.

“I suspect it will really start moving the case forward now,” she said.

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.

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