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Durham to use mental defense in murder trial

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By Calen McKinney

 

Jesse Durham has filed notice that he will use a mental health defense in his murder case.

Durham, 22, is accused of killing his great-grandmother, Elizabeth Arinsmier, with a hammer. He has pleaded not guilty to murder, which carries a sentence of as much as life in prison.

Earlier this month, Durham's attorney, C.B. Bates of the Department of Public Advocacy in Columbia, announced that the case is prepared for trial.

Durham's trial, which reportedly could take several days, is scheduled to begin before Taylor Circuit Court Judge Allan Bertram on Monday, Oct. 27.

Bates also said he believed no further pretrial hearings were necessary before his client's trial date. However, a hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, but then later canceled.

Last Friday, Bates filed notice that Durham intends to use a mental health defense to help prove his innocence, as is allowed in Kentucky criminal procedures.

Notice of the intention was sent to Commonwealth's Attorney Shelly Miller, who is prosecuting Durham, and Taylor Circuit Court Clerk Rodney Burress's office for recording and filing.

According to criminal case procedures, as approved by the Kentucky Supreme Court, a defendant must file notice that he or she will claim a mental health defense within 90 days before his of her trial date.

After that notice is filed, the prosecution has up to 10 days to file a motion asking that the defendant undergo an examination, and the judge is expected to order that it be performed.

A psychiatric exam is to include the defendant's history, a description of any testing he or she underwent and the examiner's findings. Those findings are to be filed at the circuit court clerk's office as a sealed document.

At press time, Miller hadn't asked for Durham to be examined in response to the notice that he will use a mental health defense.

Neither Miller nor Bates responded by press time to requests for comment on the mental health defense.

According to court records, Durham told law enforcement that he argued with his great-grandmother on Feb. 10, 2012, and struck her with a hammer until she died.

A Campbellsville Police report states that the department received a phone call from Matt Blaine of Cincinnati, Ohio, reporting that he hadn't had any contact with Arinsmier, his 77-year-old mother who lived at 105 Daisy Drive, for a few days. Blaine asked officers to check on her.

After officers received no answer at Arinsmier's home, they entered and found her unresponsive. She was pronounced dead and an autopsy ruled the cause of her death was blunt force trauma. After an interview with police, Durham was charged with committing her murder. The prosecution has said Durham likely won't face the death penalty, and no paperwork has been filed requesting that.

According to court records, Durham is next expected to appear in court on Tuesday, Sept. 16, for a pretrial hearing.

• An indictment is a legal accusation only. It does not establish guilt.