Kenton County courtrooms adjust to virtual sentencing

Virtual sentencing in Kenton County

KENTON COUNTY, Ky. (FOX19) - 19-year-old David Jesse Henry appeared in court Tuesday by video for sentencing on a charge of second-degree manslaughter.

The Kentucky Supreme Court closed down all courtrooms to everyone but the judge due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I know this is an odd way but this what we’re forced to do in these odd, these very complex circumstances," Kenton County Circuit Judge Kathy Lepe said.

Henry pleaded guilty on Jan. 28 in connection with the shooting death of 16-year-old Jaden Casey.

Henry, Casey and some others were playing with a gun in the basement of a home on Sugarcamp Road in Sept. 2019.

He told the court he didn’t realize the gun was loaded. He also admitted to having smoked marijuana before handling the weapon.

Casey’s grandmother, who was not in the courtroom and appeared via webcam, gave a victim’s impact statement.

I find this hard to believe that this was an accident. David Henry has showed no remorse,” the victim’s grandmother Ruth Casey said.

Henry admitted to officers on the scene that he shooting was his fault.

Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders says Casey’s grandmother was unaware of what Henry told police that night.

“I do think that he has shown remorse. He owned up to what he did. From day one, he never tried to sugarcoat it or anything like that,” Sanders said.

“Miss Casey, I know that gives you, Mr. Sanders explanation probably does not give you much comfort," Judge Lape said.

“David Henry took something from us that we can never, ever replace in our life,” Ruth Casey said.

Judge Lape sentenced Henry to five years in prison with credit for time already served.

“Normally we don’t have guilty pleas on video, normally we don’t do final sentencing on video, but we’ve got to keep the court system moving as best we can. We can’t have cases continue to back up for months on end,” Sanders said.

The Kentucky Supreme Cout has canceled all new cases and extended the courtroom ban until at least April 24.

The ban does not apply in emergency cases like those dealing with domestic violence.

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