Posted: Jan 10, 2013 4:46 PM
Updated: Jan 10, 2013 6:28 PM
It was a tense Thursday afternoon in the Madison County Circuit Court as the third man accused in the murder-for-hire plot of Madison County couple Sonsaray Warford and Charles Walker pleaded not guilty to two counts each of complicity to commit murder and complicity to kidnapping.
Every court appearance is tough for the victims' families, but when Lebruce Ellington appeared in court to answer the charges against him, it was apparent that seeing him in person was extremely difficult.
Security was intense as a shackled Ellington, clad in a bulletproof vest, walked across the courtroom to face the judge. Two deputies stood in the aisles as other deputies watched carefully from near the bench.
Ellington is charged in connection to the shocking murders of Warford and Walker. In March of 2012, their bodies were found buried in shallow graves in a field off Tates Creek Road in Madison County. A memorial stands in that area today. Police say the couple had been kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by suspects Matthew Denholm and Daniel Keene, both Army Veterans. According to a police affidivat, there was a hit out on Charles Walker about a matter of stolen money belonging to drug dealer Ja'Kolbe Chenault. The affidavit also said Sonsaray was kidnapped because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Ellington said nothing and showed little emotion, but his presence spoke volumes to the victims' families who watched in court. According to the police affidavit, J'Kolbe Chenault allegedly paid Ellington $5,000 to find someone to carry out the hit.
"[Ellington] would go over to the house, him and other friends, and they would play [with Charlie]," said Sally Walker, Chew Walker's mom. "And after Charlie got older they were still friends. I just don't understand what's going on," she said as tears came to her eyes.
Ellington's alleged involvement in the murder plot that took their loved ones is still unfathomable.
"We just never thought he would have done nothing like this. Never would have thought," said Amy Burbridge, Walker's aunt.
Sonsaray Warford's father, Gregory Todd, told LEX18 he was too emotional to talk on camera after the arraignment, but he did say he will never give up, and will be there until justice is served.
Lebruce Ellington's pre-trial conference is scheduled for March. Matthew Denholm and Daniel Keene are each charged with two counts of murder and kidnapping each. They have both pleaded not guilty.