FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday
upheld the conviction of a heavily armed gunman who opened fire on
a couple out for a leisurely four-wheeler ride along a remote
mountain trail, killing the wife and critically injuring the
Kevin Rowe is serving a life sentence for the murder of Tammy
Hylton and for the attempted murder of her husband, Robin Hylton,
who was shot five times.
In a unanimous opinion, the high court found no reason to
overturn the conviction.
Defense attorney Stephen Owens said he will seek to take the
case to federal court now that state appeals have been exhausted.
The April 2005 shooting had shaken mountain residents who
routinely ride the small vehicles recreationally on networks of
abandoned coal mine roads and who are trying to build a tourism
industry around all-terrain vehicles.
Prosecutor Rick Bartley said during the trial last year that
Rowe had no real motive for the shootings other than "just to see
what it felt like."
Bartley called Rowe a "cruel, heinous murderer" during his
closing argument in the trial. "He got tired of (shooting) at
According to evidence presented at trial, Robin and Tammy Hylton
were riding in a remote area of Pike County when Rowe opened fire
with an assault rifle. Robin Hylton fell wounded to the ground and
Tammy Hylton fell across the four-wheeler. Rowe then walked up and
shot Tammy Hylton again.
After Rowe left, Robin Hylton made it to his feet, discovered
that his wife was dead and called 911. While still on the phone,
Robin Hylton exclaimed "Oh, God, he's coming back." Robin Hylton
tried to flee, but Rowe shot him several times, beat him on the
head with a pistol, then pressed the end of the gun barrel to the
back of his head and pulled the trigger again. That time the gun
was out of bullets.
Owens argued in his appeal to the state Supreme Court that Pike
County Circuit Judge Eddy Coleman improperly denied a motion to
suppress evidence collected from Rowe's four-wheeler. Owens also
argued that state police had illegally seized the four-wheeler.
In addition, Owens argued that Rowe was denied a fair trial
because the judge refused to grant a continuance to give a DNA
expert time to review evidence to determine its accuracy. And Owens
argued that the trial judge had improperly refused to allow jurors
to read a transcript of the 911 call prepared by the defense.
The Supreme Court found the arguments had no merit.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)