UPDATE: Final defendant enters plea in connection with murder of Drad Fleming

By: Morgan Lentes, Erika Glover Email
By: Morgan Lentes, Erika Glover Email
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WHITESBURG, Ky (WYMT) - UPDATE: 4-17-14 6 p.m.

For Cathy Bentley walking into the Letcher County courtroom never gets any easier.

"You just know that this has to be done," said Cathy Bentley. "It's like you're on auto and for the first two years of this I've been on auto."

Drad Fleming was her oldest son. His body was found in a burned truck in June, 2012.

Wednesday Stephanie Fleming and James Maggard were each sentenced to life in prison for Fleming's death.

"They deserve it," said Bentley. "They deserve to be there because of what they did to my son."

Austin Ison was the final defendant and was in the courtroom Thursday afternoon.

The commonwealth's attorney said Ison entered an Alford plea to facilitation to murder, arson and kidnapping. Ison pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence.

"Our court system has given justice," Bentley said. "But I don't know if I will ever have justice for what happened to my son."

Austin Ison will be sentenced May 14 at 2 p.m.
UPDATE: 4-16-14 6 p.m.

James Maggard and an emotional Stephanie Fleming were sentenced to life in prison Wednesday afternoon. The pair pleaded guilty earlier this year to their roles in the murder of Drad Fleming back in 2012.

The family of Drad Fleming has waited years to hear the words "life in prison".

On Wednesday, it finally happened. In a Letcher County courtroom, Stephanie Fleming and James Maggard were each sentenced to life in prison.

Letcher County Commonwealth's Attorney Edison Banks said this was an outcome years in the making.

"It was a long time coming but justice was finally achieved," said Banks.

Drad Fleming's mother gave an emotional victim impact statement, which questioned how anyone could hurt her son.

Stephanie Fleming cried as her former-mother-in-law spoke. She will not be eligible for parole until she has served at least 20 years in prison.

As for Maggard, Banks said his sentence will help the family heal.

"In the end, the person that actually committed the murder, James Maggard, was sentenced to life without possibility of parole or probation," said Banks.

He added the Fleming family has been incredibly strong during this ordeal.

"They have always handled themselves very admirably considering what they were going through and they are a tight family who we hope can somehow get some piece of mind in this matter," said Banks.

A final defendant, Austin Ison, awaits his day in court for his involvement in the murder .

Defense attorney's declined our request for an interview.

Drad Fleming's family wanted to wait until Austin Ison's case was finished before making a formal statement to WYMT.
UPDATE: 3-21-14 6 p.m.

Friday afternoon James Ray Maggard entered an Alford plea in connection with the 2012 murder of Drad Fleming.

Prosecutors said the plea does not mean Maggard admits he committed the crime, but instead acknowledges that there is enough evidence for a jury to convict him.

Maggard is expected to accept a life sentence without parole.

He did not agree to testify against anyone else in this case.

Maggard will be sentenced April 23rd.

The Letcher County commonwealth's attorney said they are not done yet.

“By pleading guilty our theory of the case was fully vindicated and we do not have to worry about the uncerntity of the future of to these two defendants," said Edison Banks.

The third defendant, Austin Ison, faces a complicity to commit murder charge.

"With this plea we have brought the two key players and we have a third defendant that has a trial date set in April," said Banks.

On Monday, A Letcher County woman faces life in prison after accepting a plea deal in a murder case.

Stephanie Fleming admitted her role in the 2012 death of her then husband, Drad Fleming.

One step closer to justice, that is what the Letcher County Commonwealth's Attorney says was accomplished as Stephanie Fleming pleaded guilty for her role in the murder of her husband Drad Fleming.

It all started back in June 2012, that is when police found Drad Fleming murdered in this burnt out truck along Franks Creek Road.

Shortly after, police arrested Stephanie Fleming and her boyfriend, James Maggard, in connection to the case.

At first, both pleaded not guilty.

"I done some of it I guess, I don't know, I didn't do all of it."

That was James Maggard in December 2012 during a WYMT exclusive interview.

Fast forward to 2014 and Stephanie Fleming was back in a Letcher County courtroom to cut a deal.

The Commonwealth's Attorney says, "Complicity to murder, complicity to kidnapping, complicity to arson first degree, and to tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution for which she received life in prison".

Commonwealth's Attorney Edison Banks says that is in exchange for her testimony against the other defendants in this case.

"You still have two defendants that have court dates and with this guilty plea, we feel that is is a substantial step closer to achiever justice for everyone involved."

Family members of Drad Fleming were present for the hearing and were visibly distraught.

"This is definitely a substantial step towards that."

Fleming will be formally sentenced on April 16th at 1:30 p.m.

As we mentioned, family members were in the courtroom to hear the plea; however, none of them wanted to be on camera at this time.


As part of a deal to avoid the death penalty, Stephanie Fleming has agreed to plead guilty to her role in the murder of her husband.

Fleming pleaded guilty on Monday to complicity to commit murder, complicity to kidnapping, complicity to arson (first degree), tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution.

Formal sentencing is set for Apr. 16. with a recommended sentence of life in prison.

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