UPDATE: Plea Deal Made in Pike County Deputy Death Case

By: WSAZ News Staff, Randy Yohe, The Associated Press Email
By: WSAZ News Staff, Randy Yohe, The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 8/31/12 @ 1:20 p.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A man accused of hitting and killing a Pike County Sheriff's Deputy in a car crash has made a plea deal in the case.

Friday, David Childers pleaded guilty to second degree manslaughter and to being a persistent felon in Pike County Circuit Court.

Childers was originally charged with murder for causing the crash that killed Pike County Deputy James Thacker.

The crash happened on January 23, 2012.

Investigators say Childers was speeding on US 460 when he crossed the center line and hit Thacker's cruiser head on. Thacker died in the crash.

Drug paraphernalia was found in Childers' SUV.

The Commonwealth Attorney has recommended a 20 year prison sentence for Childers as part of the plea deal. He will be sentenced in November.



UPDATE 3/16/12 @ 9:52 p.m.
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Prosecutors have asked a judge to preserve evidence in the case of a Pike County deputy killed when a sport-utility vehicle crossed the center line on US-460 and hit his car head-on.

Pike County Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Bartley wants Circuit Judge Steve Combs to order that the evidence be kept safe and set guidelines on how long the defense may have to examine the vehicles involved.

Reports say Bartley is also seeking an order requiring Nissan Motors to provide troopers with the software necessary to remove digital information from 47-year-old David Childers' SUV.

Bartley is prosecuting Childers on a charge of murder in the death of deputy James I. Thacker in January.

A trial date has not been set.



UPDATE 2/13/12
PIKEVILLE, (WSAZ) -- The man charged with murder in connection with the death of a Pike County sheriff's deputy pleaded not guilty to the charges during his arraignment.

David Childers appeared in Pike County Circuit Court Friday afternoon. Police say he caused a wreck that killed Deputy James Thacker last month.

A number of Thacker's family, friends and co-workers were in court for the hearing.

Investigators say that on January 23rd, Childers crossed the center line on US 460 and hit Thacker's cruiser head on. He died at the scene. Investigators say they found drug paraphernalia in Childers' SUV.

Earlier this month, a grand jury indicted him on murder and persistent felony offender charges.

Judge Steven Combs said he will consider bond if the defense attorney files a written motion.

A pre-trial conference in the case is scheduled for April 27.



UPDATE 2/2/12
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A Pike County Grand Jury has indicted David Childers on one count of murder in the death of a Pike County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Childers, 47, of Ashcamp, Ky., was also indicted on one count of being a persistent felony offender.

His first court appearance on the charges is set for February 10 in Pike County Circuit Court, according to the Commonwealth Attorney’s office.

Deputy James I. Thacker was killed last week in a crash on U.S. 460. Investigators say Childers was driving a SUV that crossed the center line and hit Thacker’s cruiser.

Earlier this week, Deputy Brian Conley, with the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, told WSAZ.com that excessive speed was a factor in the crash.

Conley also said that drug paraphernalia was found in Childers' car.

Investigators are still waiting for Childers' toxicology reports.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information



UPDATE 1/31/12 @ 2:30 p.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The man charged with murder in connection with the death of a Pike County Sheriff’s Deputy was back in court Monday.

David Childers, 47, of Ashcamp, Ky., entered a not guilty plea Monday morning.

Deputy Brian Conley, with the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, tells WSAZ.com that excessive speed was a factor in the crash that killed Deputy James I. Thacker. Conley also says drug paraphernalia was also found in Childers' car.

“He needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law because he was in an accident that killed one of my deputies. I have no sympathy for anybody like that,” Pike County Sheriff Charles “Fuzzy” Keesee told our sister station WYMT.

Deputies say Childers was speeding when he allegedly crossed the center line and hit Thacker's cruiser head-on.

“It was evidence that contributed to the cause of the collision. Information and evidence obtained by Detective Anderson and Trooper Crum was used to obtain the arrest warrant,” Trooper Shaun Little also told our sister station WYMT.

Investigators are still waiting for Childers' toxicology reports.
“He needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law because he was in an accident that killed one of my deputies. I have no sympathy for anybody like that,” Pike County Sheriff Charles “Fuzzy” Keesee told WYMT.

David Childers’ father, Jerry Wayne Childers, is a Pike County Trial Commissioner, so the District Judges have recused themselves from the case. Retired Ashland District Judge Marc Rosen will handle Childers’ case.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information on the case.



UPDATE 1/30/12 @ 1:40 p.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A not guilty plea for a man charged in the death of Pike County Sheriff’s Deputy James I. Thacker.

Thacker was killed in a crash along U.S 460 in Pike County last Monday night.

Investigators say David Childers, 47, of Ashcamp, Ky., was driving a SUV that crossed the center line and hit Thacker’s cruiser.

Childers was arrested and charged with murder a short time after Thacker’s funeral Friday afternoon.

An automatic not guilty plea was entered during Childers' arraignment in Pike County District Court Monday morning. His preliminary hearing is set for Thursday morning. He will remain the Pike County Detention Center without bond.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 1/27/12 @ 6:25 p.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- David Childers was arrested Friday and charged with the murder of Deputy James I. Thacker.

The charge stems from a crash that happened Monday night in Pike County. Thacker was killed in the crash.

Childers, 47, is from Ashcamp, Ky.

Thacker was serving court papers when Childers' SUV crossed the center line of U.S. 460 and hit his cruiser head on. Thacker died at the scene.

No other details about the charges are being released at this point.

Thacker’s funeral took place Friday at the East Ridge High School gym, just outside the long-time public servant's home town of Elkhorn City, Ky.

The release on David Childers’ murder arrest was held off until after the funeral -- out of respect for Thacker’s family. This was a service that saw an even larger family come together -- in honor.

They came from around the region, from all over the commonwealth of Kentucky, from West Virginia and Virginia. They came from every walk of law enforcement and first response units -- in a show of honor deeply appreciated in the name of Thacker.

“This is a testimony to the people here," Chief Deputy Bert Hatfield said. "We are proud that all these agencies have shown such support.
It means a lot, not just to us, but to the family.”

Comforted by an old time hymn, people like Troy Scarberry, a school friend and Thacker opponent in a constable race, remembered a family man that so many say cared so much for his fellow man.

”We aggravated each other and cut up, but James I., he was a friend when nobody else was a friend," Scarberry said.

Judge Darrel Mullins said, “Deputy Thacker was an excellent deputy; he was an asset to law enforcement and to the courts. He’ll be sadly missed. It’s important to remember that law enforcement is on duty 24 hours, and every time they get in that car they take their life in their hands. They do it to make sure we have a civil society and an orderly society."

Sheriff Charles “Fuzzy” Keesee says Thacker, who most people know as James I., was a man of compassion and duty who would always go the extra mile.

Childers is in custody at the Pike County Detention Center.

Police are not yet saying why Childers is being charged with murder or why he crossed the center line Monday night.

The Kentucky State Police post in Pikeville is conducting the investigation into what is now a murder case.



UPDATE 1/27/12 @ 4:11 p.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A man has been charged with murder in connection with an accident that killed a sheriff's deputy.

Kentucky State Police say David Childers was arrested Friday afternoon.

Troopers say Childers crossed the center line on U.S. 460 Monday morning and hit a Deputy James I. Thacker's cruiser head-on.

Deputy Thacker died in the crash.

Troopers say Childers is charged with one count of murder and is being taken to the Pike County Detention Center.

No other details surrounding the arrest are being released at this time.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 1/26/12 @ 9 a.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Hundreds of people attended the first night of visitation for fallen Pike County Sheriff's Deputy James I. Thacker.

Friends, family, and law enforcement colleagues crowded into the Community Funeral Home in Pikeville to pay their respects.

Deputy Thacker, 53, was serving papers Monday night when investigators say an SUV crossed the center line on U.S. 460 and hit him head on.

"It's a very sad thing when something like this happens to the community, especially when it's a deputy or law enforcement that tries to protect us," said Creg Damron of Pikeville.

"When a police officer is killed in the line of duty, it affects police all around because everyone knows it could have just as easily been one of them," said Eric Johnson, Executive Director of Supporting Heroes organization.

"The support for our department and the family of James I. Thacker's been wonderful. Support that's unbelievable," said Sheriff Charles "Fuzzy" Keesee.

Many who never even knew Thacker are thanking him for his service.

"We certainly thank all the people that has given the sheriff's department and James I.'s family support, so great to do that," said Sheriff Keesee.

The visitation continues Thursday at the Community Funeral Home. The funeral is Friday at 1 p.m. at East Ridge High School.



UPDATE 1/25/12 @11:55 a.m.
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Law enforcement agencies across Kentucky have escorted the body of a Pike County Sheriff's Deputy back home.

Deputy James Thacker was killed Monday night in a traffic crash. Investigators said a sport utility vehicle crossed the center line of a highway and struck Thacker's car head-on.

Deputy Robert Marble went with Thacker's body as it was taken to Frankfort for an autopsy. On the way back to Pikeville on Tuesday, there was a county-by-county police escort by a number of police agencies.

Powell County Deputy Michael Townsend said the escort was provided to honor a fallen fellow officer.

Thacker's funeral is scheduled for Friday afternoon at East Ridge High School.



UPDATE 1/24/12 @ 6:45 p.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Many throughout an entire county are mourning the loss of a deputy sheriff who was killed in a car crash Monday night.

The question now is why did the other driver cross the center line -- striking the fatal blow with incredible force?

That investigation became intense Tuesday.

So many people fondly remember deputy James I. Thacker, 53, who they called James.

He was on his way home Monday night -- stopping to serve a few process papers when tragedy struck.

While State Police investigators worked Tuesday on a reconstruction of the crash on U.S. 460, just north of Elkhorn City, a Pike County Sheriff's cruiser in front of the Pike County Courthouse was draped in memorial black with a wreath.

Police say about 9 p.m. Monday, an SUV driven by David Childers of Ashcamp, Ky., crossed the center line and struck Thacker’s cruiser. The long-time public servant was pronounced dead at the scene.

With a heavy heart, Sheriff Charles “Fuzzy” Keesee told us Thacker came to his department a year ago, after a four-year term as constable.
And he says James I. was as fine a man as he was a deputy.

The sheriff says he prayed with Thacker’s family while the jaws of life extrication tool was used to remove the body from a severely mangled cruiser.

Thacker was a husband, a father of four, a grandfather and a former road foreman.

Childers remained hospitalized Tuesday.

State police will not say why Childers crossed the center line. They say more investigation is needed before they can make any comment.

Keesee says this is the third deputy he's lost in his 38 years on the job.

The visitation for the deputy will be Wednesday and Thursday evening.
It will start beginning at 6 p.m. each day at the Community Funeral Home in Pikeville.

The funeral will be at 1 p.m. Friday at East Ridge High School.



UPDATE 1/24/12 @ 12:12 p.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A Pike County Sheriff's Deputy was killed in a three vehicle crash Monday night.

The crash happened about 9 p.m. on U.S. 460 between the Marrowbone and Belcher communities.

The Pike County Sheriff’s Office tells WSAZ.com that James I. Thacker, 53, of Elkhorn City was the deputy who was killed.

Thacker was on duty and on his way back to Elkhorn City from Pikeville when the accident happened, according to Kentucky State Police.

Troopers say the accident happened when the driver of an SUV apparently lost control and crossed the centerline and hit Thacker’s cruiser. A second vehicle was also hit by the SUV.

Mr. Thacker was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash remains under investigation.

Flags at the Pike County Courthouse were lowered to half-staff and the lights and windshield of a sheriff’s cruiser were cloaked in black to honor Thacker.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 1/24/12 @ 7:05 a.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A sheriff's deputy is dead after a car crash involving three vehicles.

It happened about 9 p.m. Monday on U.S. 460 between the Marrowbone and Belcher communities.

Sheriff Charles “Fuzzy” Keesee is not releasing the name of the deputy at this time.

Kentucky State Police say the deputy was on duty and on his way back to Elkhorn City from Pikeville when the three vehicle crash happened.

Details of the accident have also not been released.

Investigators say a person in one of the other vehicles was taken to Pikeville Medical Center. No word on their condition.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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