Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Local News

December 18, 2013

Manslaughter trial goes to jury

Dec. 18, 2013 — Jurors began deliberation in a Carter County manslaughter case Tuesday afternoon.

At press time, the fate of Clifford “Boomer” Cathey, the Grayson man accused of manslaughter in the 2012 New Years' Day beating death of Heath Toney, had not been decided.

The day began with the prosecution calling Det. Travis Steele to the stand a second time for a review of evidence.

Steele testified that there was no reason to send a hair found on the knife collected at the scene for DNA testing.

He said because the knife matched a description of one owned by the victim, authorities believed it to belong to Toney.

Cathey chose not to testify on his own behalf and the defense chose to rest without calling witnesses.

After breaking for lunch, both sides gave closing arguments.

Defense attorney Brian Hewlett focused on the inconsistent testimony between witnesses.

“You can't have it both ways,” Hewlett said. “There was no structural damage to the skull. It doesn't make sense that Mr. Toney could be kicked in the head and have no scalp laceration or bruising.”

Hewlett pointed out a lack of evidence gathered at the scene, and questioned the knife, which he called a “red herring.”

“Mr. Cathey would have to have been a mind reader to know what kind of knife to plant on the scene,” Hewlett said.

“Negative results are just as meaningful as positive results,” Hewlett added. “There was a lack of evidence on the dirty boots and no sign that they had been cleaned.”

Ultimately, the testimony of Brian Rice, the co-defendant that changed his story on the witness stand was Hewlett's main point.

“Rice had made a deal with the prosecution so why change his testimony?” he asked the jury.

Commonwealth's Attorney Brandon Ison told jurors that calls made to 911 by Cathey were more for self preservation than to help Mr. Toney.

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