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A Taylor County jury won’t determine the fate of a Campbellsville woman who is accused of killing her husband with an overdose of liquid morphine after all.
Kathleen Wise, 61, of 4203 Bengal Road, is set to face a jury on Monday. And now the jury deciding her guilt or innocence will be made up of Washington County residents instead of Taylor County ones.
Late last month, Wise asked that her murder trial be moved out of Taylor County because of pre-trial publicity.
If her request wasn’t approved, Wise stated in court records, she believed her right to a fair trial would have been jeopardized.
Wise was indicted in July 2011 by a Taylor County grand jury and charged with the first-degree murder of her husband, Joseph. If convicted, she faces as much as life in prison. She has pleaded not guilty to the crime, and the prosecution has said it will not seek the death penalty.
According to court records, Wise allegedly admitted to Taylor County Sheriff’s deputies and a detective that she added liquid morphine to her husband’s drinking water June 7, 2011.
Wise’s attorney, William Butler of Louisville, has said that Wise denies killing her husband. According to court records, however, Wise confessed to being involved with her husband’s death.
Wise’s trial was set to begin Monday in Taylor Circuit Court before Taylor Circuit Court Judge Dan Kelly at the Taylor County Judicial Center.
In order for a change of venue request to be granted, Butler stated in the motion, a defendant must prove there has been “prejudicial” news coverage of the alleged crime before a trial and the coverage could reasonably prevent a fair trial.
“In this case, the defendant was a nurse at a well-known nursing home in the community,” Butler wrote.
“Pretrial publicity in the Central Kentucky News-Journal and WKYT television news has been substantial.”
An Internet search for Wise’s name finds several news stories about her pending criminal case on many media outlets, including WHAS 11, WKYT, www.topix.com, www.campbellsville.com, www.cknj.com and others.
On Monday, Kelly ruled that Wise’s trial will be moved to the Washington County Judicial Center in Springfield.
As he is a circuit judge for the entire 11th Judicial District, which includes Taylor, Green, Marion and Washington counties, Kelly will still preside over the trial, which will begin at 8:30 a.m. with jury selection.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Cocanougher, the prosecutor in the case, said he continues to believe that Wise could have received a fair trial in Taylor County, despite the news coverage of her alleged crime.
“However, any time a case receives the publicity that Mrs. Wise’s case has received, it can result in potential jurors forming opinions before hearing the evidence,” he stated in an emailed response.
“When this happens, the most prudent course is to remove that potential impediment from the trial process by moving to a county in which the potential jury pool has not been exposed to the publicity. I believe this is the reason Judge Kelly moved the trial.”
He said earlier this month that he further believes Wise could have received a fair trial in Taylor County because jury selection is done to eliminate any would be jurors who have already formed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant based on media exposure.
Butler said earlier this month that he believes his motion speaks for itself and that pretrial publicity could cause Wise to not have a fair trial.
He did not return a phone call before press time to comment on the trial being moved to Washington County.
Wise was first scheduled to face a jury of her peers in May. However, her trial was rescheduled after a witness wasn’t available to testify.
Wise is a former registered nurse at Medco Nursing Nome, now Campbellsville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. A civil lawsuit has been filed against the facility, claiming that its staff members were negligent in supervising Wise, and were thereby also responsible for Mr. Wise’s death. The defendants in the case have denied any wrongdoing. There are no pending court dates in that case.
The criminal charges against Wise stem from a toxicology investigation into her husband’s death. Mr. Wise died June 8, 2011, from a supposed heart attack. However, routine toxicology tests revealed he consumed a fatal dose of morphine.
Taylor County Coroner Terry Dabney turned the reports over to the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office for investigation.
Court records state that a toxicology report found 5,738 ng/ml of morphine in Joseph Wise’s blood and 1,359 ng/ml in his urine. The normal therapeutic ranges, according to court records, are from 10 to 80 ng/ml.
Wise has been housed at the Taylor County Detention Center since her arrest. It has been said that her trial could take two to three days.
• An indictment is a legal accusation only. It does not establish guilt.
• A lawsuit presents only one side of a case.