Knott County man pleads guilty to manslaughter

By: Tanner Hesterberg Email
By: Tanner Hesterberg Email

Update 11/8/13

A Knott County man accused of killing another man earlier this year has pleaded guilty.

Jerry Combs, 34, pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter and received a recommended sentence of 18 years in prison, court officials said.

Police say Combs stabbed Eric Fugate, 30, to death in January after the two men got into an argument in the Triplett Branch area of Knott County.

Combs' final sentencing is scheduled for Thursday, November 14.

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Update 2/22/12

HINDMAN, Ky. (WYMT) - A Knott County man has been indicted in connection with a murder.

Jerry Combs, 34, is accused of killing Eric Fugate, 30, after police say the two men got into an argument.

Fugate's family reported him missing on January 17. Police found his body near an old mining road the next day in the Triplett Branch area of Knott County.

Combs is set to be arraigned Feb. 28 in Knott Circuit Court.

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Update on January 29, 2012, by Tanner Hesterberg:

HINDMAN, Ky. (WYMT) - A Knott County murder case is headed to the grand jury.

Jerry Combs, 34, is accused of killing Eric Fugate, 30, after police say the two men got into an argument.

Fugate's family reported him missing on January 17. Police found his body near an old mining road the next day in the Triplett Branch area of Knott County.

Prosecutors on Tuesday convinced District Judge Dennis Prater there was probable cause to send the case to the grand jury.

"Our standard is probably cause, which is very very low threshold and it was clearly found (tuesday)," Knott County Attorney Tim Bates said.

Police are waiting on several pieces of evidence to be returned by the state medical examiner, who ruled Fugate died from multiple stab wounds.

Combs' attorney, Ned Pillersdorf, said he is trying to sort through all the evidence that is being presented against his client.

"Usually I'm very cautious at a preliminary hearing," Pillersdorf said. "(Tuesday) I was trying to figure out what evidence they have to charge my client with a crime. My conclusion after listening is we'll need to wait and see what the actual videotapes say and see what the lab results say. We're a long way from knowing how much trouble my client is actually in."

Police say Combs admitted to cutting Fugate but did not say he killed him.

Combs has pleaded not guilty.

"Apparently in this case the government evidence was a long, eight-hour taped statement my client made," Pillersdorf said. "There was some evidence seized as being analyzed at the crime lab and some statements of witnesses."

The grand jury has 60 days from Tuesday to indict Combs. If he is not indicted by then, he will be able to leave jail but could still be indicted.

"Once it goes on forward, then in order to convict it needs to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is vastly different than the standard at a preliminary hearing," Bates said.

Combs is lodged in the Kentucky River Regional Jail.

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Update on January 19, 2012, by Rebekah Pewitt:

MOUSIE, Ky. (WYMT) – The body of a missing person was found dead on a surface mining road in Knott County Friday morning.

On an old mining road, a missing person's case quickly became a murder investigation.

A family member of Eric Fugate of Hindman, reported him missing on Thursday.

“We received a call of Eric Fugate's truck being located in the Triplett Branch area of Knott County,” said Wes Sandlin with Kentucky state police.

Police then searched on the ground and by air Friday after his truck was found.

They found Fugate's body in the woods in the area near his truck.

“With help of the helicopter, we located Eric Fugate at that location,” said Sandlin.

Later that night police, arrested and charged 34 year old, Wayland local, Jerry Combs with the murder.

“It was determined that Eric Fugate and Jerry Combs were involved in an altercation, and that altercation resulted in the death of Eric Fugate,” said Sandlin.

The Knott County Coroner pronounced him dead at the scene and sent the body to Frankfort for an autopsy.

Combs is currently in the Kentucky River Regional Jail.


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