Lawsuit: Kentucky police planted evidence in murder case

AP News
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Posted: Apr 05, 2017 6:26 PM

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Two people who spent years in a Kentucky jail after being wrongfully charged with murder have sued 10 police officers from three departments, alleging a conspiracy to frame them by planting evidence to protect a confidential informant.

Amanda Hoskins, 32, and Jonathan Taylor, 29, were charged with murder in the 2010 slaying of Katherine Mills in Flat Lick. Both were released from jail last year after prosecutors asked the court to dismiss the charges because they lacked probable cause. The case remains unsolved.

On Tuesday, Hoskins and Taylor filed a federal lawsuit against officers with the Kentucky State Police and the Knox County Sheriff and Barbourville Police departments.

The lawsuit says the officers coerced witnesses to implicate Hoskins and Taylor in the slaying and planted evidence, including altering medical records and filing fake police reports, to frame them. Hoskins said she was moved to seven different jails as detectives hunted for the "perfect inmate" that would falsely accuse her of making a jailhouse confession.

Hoskins said that while in jail, on the days she was allowed to have a piece of paper, she kept a detailed log of her conversations. But the hardest part was seeing her children's tiny hands pressed up against the glass between them when they would come visit, her mind clouded with thoughts like, "Is this how I am going to spend the rest of my life?"

"I would just tell myself every day: Maybe tomorrow you will go home," she said. "I did that for 36 months."

Attorney Elliot Slosar said detectives worked hard to frame Hoskins and Taylor because the actual evidence pointed to the guilt of a man who was an informant for the police in several other criminal cases. Slosar said police worried that, if the man were convicted, it would cause the other cases to collapse in court. Slosar said he hopes the case will lead to evidence that will exonerate "other wrongfully convicted individuals in Kentucky who have also been framed by these same police officers."

The lawsuit names Knox County and the city of Barbourville. It names seven officers with the Kentucky State Police, but does not name the agency itself because of a state law that protects it from lawsuits. Slosar said the officers have not been notified of the lawsuit yet. Phone calls to the local governments and the Kentucky State Police were not returned.

Of the 10 officers named in the lawsuit, Jason York was mentioned the most as the lead investigator, and Slosar singled him out during a news conference Wednesday. York still works for the agency. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

The lawsuit says York and other officers coerced witnesses to testify against Hoskins and Taylor in exchange for promises to sweep their drug charges "under the rug." Several times, the lawsuit says, York and other officers wrote fake police reports indicating a witness had identified Hoskins and Taylor.

Taylor was in jail for five years, and Hoskins was in jail for three years. Last year, prosecutors asked the court to dismiss the case saying several witnesses had changed their stories, and one witness had been in a car accident and lost her memory. The motion to dismiss did not mention anything about police corruption or planting evidence.

Since being released from jail, Hoskins said she still lives in fear. She has audio and video recording devices on her doorstep and she keeps a detailed journal of where she goes and with whom she speaks.

"Are they going to come and charge you again?" she said. "You just keep that in the back of your mind. It's like living, just, a nightmare."