WILLIAMSBURG, KY — In an extremely rare move, Whitley County Commonwealth's Attorney Allen Trimble decided to drop double-murder charges against two men he had been trying to dispatch to death row.
Trimble said he had no choice but to ask dismissal of the cases against Wayne Mount and Ronnie Kitts Jr., both of Tennessee, after two key witnesses -- who provided the only evidence connecting the men to the killings -- recanted.
The reversal of Trimble's prosecutorial fortune means a new investigation will be launched into the slayings of Robert "Tweet" Williams, 28, and Duane Jody, 27. The two men were found in 1997 with the tops of their heads blown off in a drug-strewn mobile home they shared north of Williamsburg.
Mount, 50, of Knoxville, was the only defendant at the recent hearing. Kitts, 29, is in federal prison on drug charges.
Mount welcomed Trimble's decision but said that during his 18 months in the Whitley County jail, his health declined and he was tormented by his inability to be a father to his children, Meghan, 7, and Aaron, 2.
He was released from jail on a $10,000 bond on May 14, the day the Herald-Leader ran a story examining the scant evidence against him. Previously, his bond had been set at $1 million, then $175,000, which still was too high for his family.
Outside bars, Mount has become tan. But inside his body, his lungs are deteriorating from chronic disease. It may be too late to regain his life, he said.
"They turned me loose on one hand, and they condemned me on the other; my breathing ain't worth 2 cents," Mount said.
"They ran my picture across TV when I was arrested, but they ain't done nothing since. That ruined me. I lost my job, and now I can't find one. My health is bad. My nerves are shot. I don't sleep hardly at all. At least I've still got my family."
From the outset, the Williams and Jody slayings case was odd.
Kentucky State Police detectives processed little of the evidence found at the crime scene. For instance, it was at defense attorney Brenda Popplewell's behest that the state crime lab examined fingerprint evidence that helped clear her client and Kitts. Mount calls her "a little bulldog."