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Atwood found guilty of 2nd degree manslaughter

From the office of Brian Wright
Commonwealth's Attorney for the 29th Judicial Circuit

After deliberating well past midnight on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, a Casey County Circuit Court jury found Randall Lee Atwood, age 59, guilty of Second-Degree Manslaughter and First-Degree Wanton Endangerment following a three-day trial.

According to testimony at trial, Atwood shot and killed 33-year old Elza E. King on November 4, 2020, near Calhoun Creek Road in Casey County. The men had been involved in an argument regarding property that King was purchasing located near land owned by Atwood and adjacent to a driveway leading to Atwood's home.

The argument escalated and Atwood brandished a firearm as the two men argued. Atwood eventually placed his gun back inside his truck as King and King's girlfriend, Savannah Lynn, got into King's truck. King drove towards Atwood's truck, where Atwood was standing near the driver's side door. King slammed on his brakes before reaching Atwood's vehicle, but King's truck hit the side of the bed of Atwood's truck just behind the driver's side door before coming to a stop. Atwood retrieved his 9mm handgun again and proceeded to shoot into the driver's side window of King's truck, striking King in the left shoulder. The state medical examiner testified that the bullet then penetrated King's lungs and aorta before lodging in the back of his right shoulder. The medical examiner also testified that the autopsy report revealed the presence of an illicit drug in King's blood.

Atwood made several statements immediately following the shooting, and never denied firing the weapon at King. Atwood's defense at trial was that he was acting in self-defense, although Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright maintained that Atwood initiated the confrontation and that Atwood was not in actual danger when he fired through the side of the driver's window into King's stationary truck.

Atwood was initially charged with Murder but was convicted of the lesser offense of Second-Degree Manslaughter. The conviction for Wanton Endangerment was based on the danger Atwood posed to Savannah Lynn when he shot into King's truck.

The jury recommended the maximum sentences available for both charges - ten (10) years on Second-Degree Manslaughter and five (5) years on First-Degree Wanton Endangerment - and the jury recommended that the sentences be served consecutively, for a total sentence of fifteen (15) years in prison.

The case was investigated by Kentucky State Police Det. Marvin Blakey and Det. B.J. Burton, with assistance from the Casey County Sheriff's Department and Casey County Constable Darren Wesley, who was the first member of law enforcement to arrive at the scene of the shooting. Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright commended the officers for their hard work and dedication in this investigation.

Wright further expressed appreciation to the jurors who served during this trial. Wright said, "I respect and appreciate the jury's decision in this case. They spent several days listening to testimony and deliberated for a considerable time before reaching their verdict in this case. I'm thankful that justice was served on behalf of Elza and his family. The Commonwealth has always maintained that Elza's death was unnecessary and was the result of an unlawful act, and the jury agreed." Wright added, "my office remains committed to ensuring the safety of all citizens of this jurisdiction and will continue to aggressively prosecute those persons who commit criminal acts of violence against others."

Atwood, who was represented at trial by attorneys Theodore Lavit and Cameron Griffith, will appear before Casey Circuit Judge Judy Vance Murphy for final sentencing on January 24, 2022.

This story was posted on 2021-12-03 15:38:18
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