Landon Lovett dies, suspect could face stiffer charges


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Randall Barnes

PADUCAH, Ky.---On Tuesday, the prosecutor told Local 6 he's considering changing the charges against the man accused causing the crash while under the influence of a potent combination of  pills.

19-year-old Landon Lovett passed away Tuesday morning at a Nashville Medical Center.

Lovett and a friend, Shane McKenty, were critically injured in May after the driver of a Jeep crossed the center line and plowed into their pickup truck on Highway 95 in Calvert City.

The driver of the Jeep, Cory Burkeen, faces two counts of first degree wanton endangerment, driving under the influence, and two counts of first degree assault.

The prosecutor told Local 6 Lovett's death could change the case in a very big way.

The two counts of assault could change to reckless homicide, manslaughter, or even murder.  But before taking the case back to the grand jury, the prosecutors and grieving family have some tough decisions to make.

Nearly six months after the horrific crash, Landon Lovett is gone.

No doubt Lovett's family will never be the same. The case against the man accused of crashing into Lovett and three of her friends, could also change in a very big way.

"Any time you have a death it's also a very serious situation," Marshall County Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Eric Long said.

The two counts of 1st degree assault are associated with serious physical injury.  Now that Landon passed away, the charges against Cory Burkeen could be changed to murder, which carries a minimum of 20 years, manslaughter which carries 5 to 10, or reckless homicide, carrying 1 to 5.
But Long wants to speak with Landon's family, her doctors, and law enforcement first and choose a charge that a jury would be the most likely to consider.

While nothing can bring Landon back, Long wants justice for the family she left behind.

"That's what we want to do, that's what we're supposed to do, that's what we intend to do," Long said.

Long said it's important to note that assault 1st degree, which is what Burkeen currently faces carries 10 to 20 years in prison. The stiffer charge of reckless homicide or manslaughter carries a lesser jail sentence.

So there's a lot that the prosecution must consider before they try to change the charges.

If they do decide to change the charges, the prosecution would go back before the grand jury, likely in January.

Then, the grand jury would decide if the charges should change, then a regular jury would hear Burkeen's case.

As for Shane McKenty, Lovett's passenger; he is at home undergoing extensive physical therapy.

Filbeck-Cann & King Funeral Home in Benton, Kentucky is in charge of Landon Lovett's arrangements.  Services and visitation are incomplete at this time.