News 08.05.16

Incarceration Lingers for Hardin and Clark; Their Families Struggle

By Carlita Salazar

Defendents' families embrace at hearing in summer 2016. Aaron Borton/ Innocence Project

On Thursday morning, attorneys from the Innocence Project and the Kentucky Innocence Project appeared in court in Meade County, Kentucky, to request release on bail for their respective clients, Garr Keith Hardin and Jeffrey Dewayne Clark, whose convictions were overturned last month. Hardin’s and Clark’s family members were hopeful that the two men were going to return home that day, but rather than issue a decision from the bench, the judge informed the parties that he would issue a written order.

Meade Circuit Judge Bruce Butler ruled last month that Hardin and Clark are entitled to a new trial based on new DNA evidence that proved that much of the evidence presented against the men at trial was false and evidence undermining the credibility of the lead detective in the case. Pending the Commonwealth Attorney’s decision as to how to proceed with the case, attorneys for Hardin and Clark are trying to get the men released on bail.

“It’s been hell. It really has been.” -Vickie Howser, Hardin’s sister

Hardin and Clark’s families, who have stuck by the men since they were convicted in 1995, have eagerly been awaiting their return ever since the men’s murder convictions were overturned on July 14. In court Thursday, the Meade Commonwealth Attorney opposed bail, stating that the men are a flight risk, despite the fact that the men were out on bond when the case was first tried and never missed a court appearance.

Visibly upset, Hardin and Clark’s families were forced to leave the courthouse, once again, disappointed by the outcome. Vicki Howser, Hardin’s sister told the Courier-Journal: “It’s been hell. It really has been. He went in at age 22, and now he’s in his 40s. It’s taken his whole young life away from him. So, we were hoping he’d get out today and start living.”

Attorneys for Clark and Hardin do remain hopeful that the judge will rule in their favor and release the men on bail soon.

Aaron Borton/ Innocence Project

Garr Keith Hardin in court on Thursday. Photo: Aaron Borton/ Innocence Project

Aaron Borton/ Innocence Project

Jeff Clark in court on Thursday. Photo:  Aaron Borton/ Innocence Project

Aaron Borton/ Innocence Project

Hardin and Clark’s families outside the Meade County Courthouse on Thursday. Photo: Aaron Borton/ Innocence Project

Related: Court Vacates Murder Convictions of Two Men Based on New DNA and Evidence of Police Fabrication and Misconduct

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  1. Jane Davis says:

    The WHOLE JUDICIAL SYSTEM NEEDS A COMPLETE OVERHAUL! THE JUDGES BELIEVE THEY ARE GOD..THEY WILL THINK DIFFERENT WHEN THEY ARE IN FRONT OF THE REAL GOD! THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY NEEDS A REFRESHER COURSE IN “TRUTH” & “FICTION”! ALSO THE DA SHOULD BE HELD LIABLE FOR WRONGFUL INCARCERATIONS..TO BE SUED INSTEAD OF HIDING BEHIND IMMUNITY! THE NOW ADMINISTRATION & THE COURTS OF TODAY ARE UNETHICAL & NON AMERICAN IN EVERY WHICH WAY! JUDGES NEED TO BE SLAPPED INTO REALITY..THEY ARE NO GOD! THE DA IS NO GOD! ONLY COWARDS!!

  2. zelma cochran says:

    DNA, footprints of the killer found at the scene, tire tracks, hairs on body and in hands of victims also found at the crime scene cannot lie. God fearing reputable unbiased, non family members alibi’s were not lies either.
    These two are innocent and deserve to be set free with a apology to them, their families who have been destroyed by this and to the victims family for not investigating the documented (in police reports) suspects that Sheriff Greer was notified of prior to arresting Jeff and Keith.
    It would take a literal book to write down all the errors in this case of convicting the innocent and allowing the guilty to go free in this case.
    No words can say how much we appreciate the Innocent Projects willingness to honestly and objectively investigate and defend the innocent. To God be the glory for them and for revealing the truth in this case. It appears to be that :

    IT IS THE SPORT OF WINNING AT ANY COST (to tax payers and the accused) FOR MEADE COUNTY KY INVESTIGATOR SHERIFF JOE GREER, MARK HANDY, PROSECUTOR KENTON SMITH AND NOW DAVID WILLIAMS AND JUDGE SAM MONARCH ALIKE.

    Red faced and angry judge Sam Monarch & Kenton Smith showed themselves to be during the trial, when proof of the “impossibility” of Jeff and Keith committing this crime. By reputable, God fearing alibi’s testified. The time Jeff was seen coming home the night Rhonda Warford left her home to never return alone was proof of innocence.

    Evidence collected at the crime scene: Tire tracks, foot prints, hairs in hand and on clothing of the victim also proved they were innocent. Now DNA has confirmed that it was not them as well. Investigators Sheriff Joe Greer and Detective Mark Handy among others ignored (per their own written reports) other suspect information called into the sheriff’s office and to crime stoppers. Instead focusing on Jeff and Keith only.

    Kenton Smith bragged he could “convict a ham sandwich in Meade county” during the trial, judge Sam Monarch stated on trial tape video that he could not believe there was a conviction.

    Yet they have for nearly 25 years denied justice to Jeff, Keith, their families and Rhonda’s grieving family. All of these lives were destroyed not just Rhonda’s. While Meade county investigators and prosecution lived nice cush lives never showing remorse for breaking the 10 Commandments (thou shalt not bear false witness), they also attempted to murder the two as well with the death penalty when they knew they were innocent. Another 10 Commandment (thou shalt not murder). Who are criminals here? Not hard for me to tell who they are and it’s not the two convicted.

    A 19 year old boy owning a book is minor compared to the acts of the Meade county sworn to uphold justice and constitutional rights system.

    Paying a jail house snitch to lie with time off his sentence is what Kenton Smith did. Proven to be the truth. Hiding that proof from the jury during the trial also proven. Sheriff Greer was given a copy from a prisoner who received the letter when he went to the prison attempting to get a statement from him like he had from Clifford Capp’s. When the letter eventually was revealed to Jeff and Keiths attorneys and Sheriff Greer went to pick the letter up, he provided it after warning from the Attorney General that it had better not disappear. But he hid the envelope that Mr. Justis dad said it was in when he gave it to Greer. Which would have had a date on it of when Capps had written Justis but more than that it would have proven that Kevin Justis did in fact have it with him in prison to be able to give Joe Greer a copy like he said he did. Prior to Jeff and Keith’s trial that Capp’s testified at. Despite it being produced after the trial due to Justis believing in the system, that Capp’s would not be allowed to lie against Jeff once he showed the letter to Sheriff Greer. Judge Sam Monarch refused to over turn the conviction. Or grant a new trial. After he had refused to grand a direct verdict of innocent based per his own words mostly due to Capp’s statement.

    Despite Kenton Smith’s own expert saying it was not satanic in nature. He screamed satanic to every news media that would listen. He screamed it to the jury scaring them and causing them to hate Jeff and Keith as well. All except maybe the 4 who were conveniently to them dismissed as alternates who said “innocent” to the news media. Leaving the 12 that would say what they wanted them to say. Yes, lets do convict ham sandwiches as Kenton said he could do. There was no change of venue or sequestering of the jury.

    Character witnesses were fed crime facts to help them convince the jury that Jeff especially was capable of committing such a heinous crime. They even used Amy Livers/ Remsburg a child abuser, molester who was trying to keep Jeff from testifying against her to make Jeff look like a criminal.

    The lies and slanderous comments never stopped. No one could stop Kenton Smith as he became higher and higher on his power as prosecutor to do whatever he wished to convict ” ham sandwiches. ” Those comments were to our family the same as being stabbed repeatedly as Rhonda had been. They destroyed our lives, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, they destroyed us financially and emotionally. Forcing us to live a life of terror and in fear for all of our lives.

    Kenton Smith was quoted in the LEO as saying he may have became …………………. giving hope that he was now finally able to come down off his power high and honestly look at the evidence with the integrity it deserved to be investigated with. Now, he after the over turned convictions has recently said to the media that the first jury got it right and the second would too. Got what right? how could they get it right when the evidence PROVED INNOCENCE. ? Per defense attorney Bart Adams it was the most fundamentally unfair trial he has been a part of in his 43 years of practicing law. Anyone willing to look can see that.

    If Kenton Smith, Sam Monarch and Sheriff Joe Greer had been tending house as they should have been rather than pursuing convictions of “ham sandwiches” they would not have repeatedly set free Roy Melanson the serial killer of young women like Rhonda. Who they had in custody then and had frequently had custody of.

    One of the suspects that Sheriff Joe Greer also refused to investigate had grey hair in the front of his head. Michael Burton, husband of Shari Jo Burton whose name had been called in to Crime stoppers in Etown. He was a escaped convict and known murderer. Driving a blue car that a different report called to the sheriff’s office said Rhonda was seen riding in. In Meade county that weekend. Which was the original coroners report that she had just died prior to being found because the body was reported to be fresh. Originally.

    What about the dirty looking older man following Rhonda earlier the day she came up missing. Unsure why she would have been allowed to go out alone at night by herself ever, let alone that same night. But she was. Grey hairs found in her hands. hmmm dirty looking older man, hmmmm. anyone not see a possible connection there? Yet there is no record of her brother Jeff who witnessed the event being asked to describe the man or attempt to identify him in any way.

    James Whitely who is known to frequent Meade county was reported to have killed Rhonda because she refused to have sex with him. Amy Livers/ Remsburg the character witness against Jeff had threatened to kill both Rhonda and her sister Michelle during phone conversations with them, also lived in Meade county Ky. Where Rhonda was killed.

    Alibi’s were not verified on Clark and Hardin. Despite giving Sheriff Greer access to their vehicles and clothing and suffering horrendous interrogations, despite the fact that the Sheriff knew the physical evidence did not match Jeff and Keith, he went to a grand jury and lied to them to gain a indictment telling them that the fingerprint was fresh when time dating fingerprints is to this day unavailable to science. Similar characteristics of 1 hair found on Rhonda’s sweatpants was reported as similar to Keith’s. That was misstated to the jury as a absolute match even though it was not as DNA eventually proved. Disregarded was the 13 or so other hairs on her body and in her hands that did not belong to Jeff or Keith.

    Evidence in the case was destroyed despite appeals that were pending. There are so many errors in this case that it is impossible to list them all here without writing a novel. Yet, the family, prosecution and investigators have yet to show concern for the lives of our families and sons, or worse for catching the true killer.

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