Commonwealth's Attorney to seek death penalty in Perry County doctor shooting case

By: Samantha Saracino Email
By: Samantha Saracino Email

A prosecutor says she will seek the death penalty for the man accused of killing a Perry County doctor at the clinic where he worked last year.

Police say John C. Combs shot and killed Doctor Dennis Sandlin at the Leatherwood-Blackey clinic in December.
Sandlin allegedly would not give Combs pain pills.

"We have talked, and when I say we, I mean not only my office but the family. We have spoken with the family and after long discussion and after thinking about this case, we've decided to go ahead and we've given notice now of intent to seek the death penalty," said Teresa Combs Reed, Commonwealth Attorney for Perry County.

Reed says this decision was not made overnight.

"Kentucky has a complicated statute for seeking the death penalty and just because there's a murder, that doesn't mean that it automatically is a death penalty case. There are eight or nine called aggravated factors and we feel that in this case we actually have two of the factors," Reed said.

Reed explained what those two factors are.

"A burglary was in process, that's one and the other one is that there was a great danger of death to other people because he was shot with a gun."

Combs' attorney does not believe these factors warrant the death penalty.In an interview with the Associated Press, he said, "I think the aggravating circumstances that are listed by the Commonwealth are highly suspect and do not meet the criteria to try this case as a death case."

The Sandlin family did not want to comment, but did tell us they are glad the process is moving forward.


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