Laurel County drug suspects waived to grand jury as judge determines probable cause

Posted at 4:37 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 17:46:05-04

LONDON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The lawyers for the three defendants in the Laurel County drug bust are bracing for an indictment, and a trial they might have to try to win on technicalities.

During Tuesday’s preliminary hearing in Laurel County District Court, counsel for Travis Jefferson, Justin Cooper, and Christopher Brown all questioned a Sheriff’s Deputy about procedure during the arrest of the three men at the 49er truck stop along I-75 last Monday. One lawyer wanted the felony evading and fleeing charge reduced to a misdemeanor. Another said his client wasn’t in possession of any drugs during the arrest. All three were riding in the same vehicle when taken into custody.

“My client didn’t get specifically charged with a (drug) possession charge,” said Chase McWhorter, who represents Cooper. However, testimony from Deputy Justin Taylor somewhat contradicts McWhorter’s assertion.

“We developed information that Mr. Cooper was to be delivering a large amount of methamphetamine at the 49er truck stop located at exit 49,” Deputy Taylor stated under oath.

It appears as if all three defendants were on parole at the time of their arrests, and that at least two of them are convicted felons, which means it is unlawful for them to be in possession of a gun.

“There’s some case law out there about firearms and different things in the 6th Circuit, so we’ll have to look into those things, especially for my client who was in the back and didn’t have anything on his person,” said attorney Greta Price Atherton. Mrs. Atherton represents Travis Jefferson.

The drug bust, which included an arrest of two more people in Lexington in the middle of last week, is said to be Laurel County’s largest drug bust involving Meth. Millions of dollars in drugs were seized between the vehicle at the truck stop and the home in Lexington. The sheer volume of evidence is what will prompt defense counsel to find the imperfections in the police work, should the grand jury return an indictment.

“It definitely makes it a lot more difficult to defend, obviously. So you’re looking for issues with the investigation previously, or what everyone’s actions were in the vehicle.

When asked under oath to reveal how deputies knew the trio would be at the 49er truck stop, Mr. Taylor declined to answer.

Judge W.L. “Skip” Hammonds, Jr. waived all three men and their charges to the grand jury, which will convene in August.