STANTON, Ky. (AP) - A prosecutor said Tuesday she'll seek the death penalty for a man charged with killing a small-town eastern Kentucky police chief, while two of the officer's brothers appeared split on whether the ultimate punishment would be appropriate.
Attorneys for James Barnett entered a not guilty plea for Barnett on charges that he killed Clay City Police Chief Randy Lacy while Lacy was taking him to jail in a squad car on June 13.
During Barnett's arraignment in Powell County Circuit Court, Commonwealth's Attorney Lynn Herald said she plans to prosecute the slaying as a "capital offense and seek the death penalty."
Barnett was indicted on June 22 on charges of capital murder, escape and theft.
Barnett was escorted into the courtroom under heavy security. Several members of the Barnett and Lacy families were on hand, including Lacy's brother, Garland Lacy, who served as the court bailiff for the proceedings.
Garland Lacy said afterward it was a tragedy for two local families that had been close. However, he said his brother would have wanted the justice system to work itself out - even if that means the death penalty for a man he considered a friend.
"I want him to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Garland Lacy said. "I want him to be defended to the best of the defense's ability. At the end of the judicial process if he is found guilty and receives the death penalty, he will have no one to blame but himself."
Another brother, Chester Lacy, said he hoped the death penalty wouldn't be imposed.
"Our family's a Christian family," he said. "I've been asked a lot about hatred in my heart for James Barnett. I hate that my brother's been shot and killed by him, but I don't have hatred in my heart. I want to go to heaven some day, and I can't if I have hatred in my heart for that man."
Marcus Jones, one of Barnett's court-appointed attorneys, said he was surprised prosecutors were pushing for death.
"It's supposed to be a matter of last resort," Jones said.
Circuit Judge Frank Fletcher ordered Barnett back in court July 18 for a pretrial conference that he said would mostly deal with scheduling.
Barnett said in an interview last month with The Associated Press that he didn't remember the shooting because he was high on drugs and would exchange his life for Lacy's if he could. He also didn't know how he got the gun. Officials have said Lacy cuffed Barnett's hands in front rather than behind his back.
A coroner said Lacy was shot point-blank in the back of his head with a single bullet fired from his own gun. The car collided with a stop sign and rolled into a ditch, allowing Barnett to try to escape through a window, police said.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)