Defense attorneys for Arnett Baines, the Owensboro man facing the death penalty in connection with a January 2019 triple homicide on Audubon Avenue, are asking for his bond to be reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Baines, 32, of the 0-100 block of Dixiana Court, is charged with murder, first-degree assault, tampering with physical evidence, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and more in the deaths of Robert D. Smith, 35, Jay Michael Sowders, 43, and Christopher Carie, 18. All died of gunshot wounds to the head the morning of Jan. 17 in the basement of Sowders’ home in the 900 block of Audubon Avenue.
A second person, Cylar L. Shemwell, 33, also of Owensboro, is charged with murder and first-degree assault in the incident.
The assault charges against both stem from injuries to a woman at the home who was also shot in the head but survived.
The motion will be heard Thursday, Aug. 6 in Daviess Circuit Court. The motion says Baines was assessed as low risk of not appearing for future court dates. The assessments say Baines has a 78% likelihood of appearing for future court dates and an 84% likelihood of not being arrested on new charges if released.
The motion says: “To require Mr. Baines to stay in custody puts him at substantially greater risk of contracting COVID-19.” Because Baines is in the Daviess County Detention Center, he is unable to control whether he is near “others who may have been exposed or are asymptomatic carriers.”
Baines’ family might be able to put up a reduced bond and Baines could be placed on electronic monitoring, the motion says.
Baines uses bathrooms also used by other inmates, bunks near inmates and could be exposed to the coronavirus because “people regularly cycle in and out of jails,” the motion says.
Kentucky is under a state of emergency because of the pandemic and cases have recently been on the rise, the motion says.
“Every person is a potential carrier that could cause an outbreak in the Daviess County Detention Center,” the motion says.
Because of Baines’ inability to pay his bond, the bond amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment,’’ because it creates a situation where Baines can’t distance himself from inmates who potentially have the coronavirus, according to the motion.
It also asks that Baines’ bond be reduced from $265,000 to $100,000, with him being released if he or his family can pay 10%.
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, email@example.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse