LIVINGSTON COUNTY, KY - The death penalty stays on the table in the region's biggest murder case. That was one of several rulings a judge made this morning when Kevin Wayne Dunlap appeared in a Livingston County courtroom for a pretrial conference.
Dunlap is accused of raping Kristy Frensley a little more than a year ago inside her Trigg County home, then murdering her three children, seventeen-year-old Kayla Williams, fourteen-year-old Kortney Frensley, and five-year-old Ethan Frensley.
Today the judge ruled on several key issues and left one big one still to be resolved.
Kevin Wayne Dunlap was back in the courtroom today after an absence last month during his extensive psychological evaluation. He kept his usual quiet, detached demeanor, saying little while attorneys argued whether his life would be on the line in the trial.
Circuit Judge C.A. Woodall denied the defense's request to remove the death penalty while state officials comply with a recent Kentucky Supreme court ruling on lethal injection. Woodall ruled that the death penalty remains a viable option in this case.
What is not so clear is whether Kristy Frensley will be allowed to identify Kevin Wayne Dunlap in court as her attacker. Attorneys for Dunlap argued that because Frensley previously failed to identify Dunlap in a photo lineup, her identification of Dunlap in court would simply be from pretrial publicity. Commonwealth's Attorney G.L. Ovey, however, dismissed that and says he's confident Frensley will have her opportunity in court.
"Looking at a picture is much different than looking at someone face to face, and there has been no identification made yet. No one's ever asked Ms. Frensley in open court, was that the man that did this, so we'll see that another day," said Ovey.
That other day is quickly approaching. Before today's hearing, the judge met with members of the media in his chambers to go over guidelines for the February trial. This case has generated interest nationwide, and the judge advised the media that, "it's pretty intense in any trial, and this one will be magnified."
Attorneys are still waiting for the results from Kevin Wayne Dunlap's psychological evaluation. After those are submitted, Dunlap will face a hearing in January in which the judge will determine whether he's competent to stand trial. That trial is set to begin February 9th.