Detectives discuss evidence in a triple murder case

DANVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - Weeks after a southern Kentucky minister pleaded guilty to a triple murder, more details in the case are beginning to unfold.

Monday afternoon, WKYT talked to a detective who worked the case against Kenneth Keith from beginning to end.

"Ya it took everyone I think a little bit by surprise," says Detective Kevin Peel of the Danville Police Department.

Detective Peel tells WKYT there was a lot of evidence that was uncovered in the case that they planned to bring to trial. That was until Keith pleaded guilty to killing Mike and Angela Hockensmith and Daniel Smith in a pawn shop back in 2013.

Police found all three dead from gunshot wounds at the ABC Gold, Games and More in Danville. The Hockensmith's owned the shop and Smith was a customer.

Officials say Keith used to own the pawn shop, previously known as Kings Corner Pawn, but started struggling financially with the business and eventually had to walk away from it.

"We feel like the anger and aggression that he harbored toward the Hockensmith's out of the thought he had that they, along with some other business folks in town, had conspired to steal his business from him."

Detective Peel says Daniel Smith was a frequent customer at the shop and known to carry large amounts of cash. He says surveillance footage shows Keith's van in the area the day of the crime, waiting for him to arrive. Cash belonging to Smith was later found at Keith's business in Pulaski County.

"As part of the evidence, a little over a $100,000 was seized and every single one of those bills were tested for DNA and blood evidence."

Detective Peel says even though they were prepared for a trial in August, he is happy with the outcome in the case.

"To have it over now, in the sense of the family not having to go through the heartache and trauma and having to relive it again, that's a good thing that's good for them."

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