Guilty verdict reached in Knott Co. parole officer shooting case

By: Matthew Rand, Morgan Lentes, Whitney Burks Email
By: Matthew Rand, Morgan Lentes, Whitney Burks Email
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A Knott County jury found a man guilty of trying to kill another man Friday.

Rocky Wicker Senior will now go to prison for shooting at four Kentucky Department of Corrections Probation and Parole officers back in September of 2013. One of those officers, Brian Melvin, was shot in the arm, which was a first in the agency's history.

Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Bartley recommended a 17-year-sentence for Wicker.

"He was charged with four counts. He was found guilty of attempted murder on one officer, attempted manslaughter on the second officer and first degree wanton endangerment on the two female officers," said Bartley.

Following closing arguments, the jury spent about two hours deliberating. They returned guilty verdicts on all four counts.

Seth Combs, who was one of Wicker's attorneys, tells WYMT he was disappointed with the outcome of the case.

"Personally, I don not think that people like Mr. Wicker should be in our prisons," said Combs.

Attorneys for Wicker say he was simply protecting his family when he shot at probation and parole officers, who were looking for his wanted son Rocky Wicker Junior. Many of them were in the courtroom Friday.

"Mr. Wicker, the defendant, is the most gentle, humble guy there ever was. He conducted himself like a true gentleman throughout the whole trial like he has his whole life and he was scared to death that day and he just wanted to protect himself," said Combs.

Rocky Wicker Sr. will be formally sentenced in mid-January.

"We could have let the jury set the sentencing and it could have been as little as ten years or as much as 40. So we kind of compromised somewhere in the middle at 17," said Bartley.

Department of Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson said in a statement, "this case has served as a reminder for us, and we hope for the general public, of the dangers associated with supervising offenders out in the community."

UPDATE: 2:30

Following more than two hours of deliberations a Knott County jury returns a guilty verdict against Rocky Wicker Sr.

The jury found him guilty of attempted murder, among other charges.


UPDATE 12-11-14 12:00 PM

A Knott County Jury could decide the fate of a man facing attempted murder charges later today.

Jury deliberations started moments ago, they will decide whether to convict Rocky Wicker, Sr.

Prosecutors claim he shot and injured a probation officer in September of 2013 to protect his son, Rocky Wicker Jr.

Keep clicking for updates.

UPDATE 12-10-14:

Wednesday was the last day of testimony in the trial of a Knott County man facing charges of attempted murder.

Police say Rocky Wicker, Sr. shot at probation and parole officers at his home in the Mousie Community in 2013.

The officers were looking for his son, Rocky Wicker, Jr.

The defense called several witnesses to the stand, but attornies on both sides reserved the bulk of their questions for Mr. Wicker himself.

Wicker testified that at the time of the incident, he had reason to believe the officers at his house were in fact bounty hunters trying to kill his son.

He said the officers began shooting first, and he returned fire with a shotgun and a 10 millimeter handgun.

He said he only shot because he was fearful for his life, and had no intent to kill anyone.

"Mr. Wicker took the stand in his own defense, as he wanted to tell his side of the story and show that ... you know what he said happened is the way it happened," said Seth Combs, one of the attornies for the defense.

Police say Wicker is responsible for shooting one of the officers in the arm.

Prosecutors questioned Wicker's testimony, accusing him of protecting his son from police.

Prosecutors declined to comment after Wednesday's proceedings.

The jury portion of the trial will begin Friday.


UPDATE: 11-13-14 6PM

Dozens of officers with Kentucky's Department of Corrections were in a Knott County courtroom Thursday as Rocky Wicker, Sr. faced a judge. Last September, police say Wicker Sr. shot at four Probation and Parole officers, who were looking for his son. He now faces attempted murder charges.

Those officers tell WYMT they want to show the community how dangerous their job is.

It was not a normal day in circuit court on Thursday. Dozens of officers with the DOC sat together. Danny McGraw, who is the Little Sandy Regional Complex Senior Captain, said he came to the hearing to support a man, who he considers like a brother.

"I know I can go and do my job and I know that I got family. They are more family than they are coworkers," said McGraw.

The group of DOC officers already know that. As does Brian Melvin, the Probation and Parole officer shot on the job last September. Police say Rocky Wicker, Sr. is the one responsible. Now as he prepares to stand trial on attempted murder charges, Department of Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson hopes to shine a light on the risks her staff take while on the job.

"You saw them in there with their vests on. There is a reason that they wear those vests. It is to protect them because they are at risk every day," said Thompson.

District Supervisor Gary Compton agrees.

"Any of these officers could go to work today and get injured or potentially killed. So they get up every day, men and women, and come to work knowing that is a possibility," said Compton.

There were actually so many DOC officers at the judicial center in Knott County that the circuit court judge asked them to call ahead next time. That way, if they are going to show up for the trial, the court can accommodate them.

Wicker Sr. will be back in court on December 8th and the group plans to be there. Maybe more importantly though, many in the courtroom are just happy the victim in the case will be well enough to be there.

"Brian is hurt but he is going to be okay because I know his training and I know his character. If anybody is going to come through this, it is going to be Brian Melvin," said Compton.

Some DOC officials traveled all the way from Louisville to be in court.

Neither Rocky Wicker, Sr. nor his lawyer would comment about Thursday's hearing.

UPDATE 9/10/13 2:30 PM

Police say that they have taken another man in custody for his role in Monday's shooting in Knott County.

Kentucky State Police officials confirmed the arrest of Rocky Wicker, Jr. on Tuesday. His father was arrested directly after the shooting on Monday.

We have a crew on the way and will provide more information after it becomes available.

UPDATE 9/9/13 8:45 p.m.

A probation and parole officer is recovering tonight after he was shot in Knott County this afternoon.

Police say four probation parole officers were searching in the Mousie community of Knott County Monday afternoon when something went wrong.

"They were trying to locate Rocky Wicker, Jr. They had a pending warrant on him for absconding probation supervision," said Kentucky State Police Trooper Jody Sims.

When the officers stopped at the home of his dad, Rocky Wicker, Sr., police say things took a turn for the worse.

Police say when the probation officers pulled up at the house Rocky Wicker, Sr. Came outside on the lower level porch and started firing.

Donald Puckett says he pulled into the post office next door and quickly realized what was happening.

"As I pulled in I saw three officers at the door huddled inside. One of them looked like he was shot up pretty bad, blood all over him and blood all over the floor," said Puckett.

One of the officers, Brian Melvin, was shot in the arm.

He took cover behind their van.

The other three were still inside the home.

"They took on fire from the subject. To my knowledge they received minor injuries. It's not been determined if those are from gunfire or from glass and debris," said Trooper Sims.

Kentucky State Police troopers were able to arrest Rocky Wicker, Sr.

All four probation parole officers were taken to the hospital but are expected to recover.

Police say Rocky Wicker, Sr. has been charged with four counts of attempted murder of a police officer and four counts of wanton endangerment.

Rocky Wicker, Jr. has not been arrested but has warrants for his arrest.

Anyone with information should contact Kentucky State Police.



The Kentucky Corrections Department says a probation and parole officer has been wounded in eastern Kentucky where he was trying to arrest a man accused of not complying with the terms of his probation.

The agency says Brian Melvin and three other probation and parole officers were in the community of Mousie in Knott County on Monday afternoon to try to serve a 2010 warrant on 28-year-old Rocky Wicker Jr.

The agency said Wicker's father, Rocky Wicker Sr., allegedly opened fire on Melvin, hitting him in the arm. Corrections Department spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said Melvin was undergoing surgery at Hazard Appalachian Regional Medical Center.

Lamb said another officer has cuts on his arms from being hit by broken glass when the officers' vehicle was fired on.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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