An episode of Investigation Discovery’s “Sins & Secrets” airing Thursday night will profile the murder of University of Kentucky football player Trent DiGiuro, nearly 18 years after he was gunned down by Frankfort native Shane Ragland.
“There’s still people interested in remembering Trent,” Mike DiGiuro, Trent’s father, told The State Journal.
“(The TV show) helps keep the story around, helps people remember, but at the same time, it is hard because you have to relive the whole thing.”
“Sins & Secrets” is a TV series that looks into “notorious crimes” that have deeply affected a particular community.
DiGiuro said the show’s producers contacted him and his wife about featuring their son.
“They asked us if we were interested (in appearing on the show), and I wasn’t, but my husband was,” Ann DiGiuro told The State Journal. “I get too emotional.”
“I’m willing to do the hard part to keep his memory alive,” Mike DiGiuro said.
The DiGiuro murder rocked the Lexington and UK community in the 1990s as investigators struggled to find the killer.
It wasn’t until 2000 when Ragland was identified as the murderer after his ex-girlfriend Aimee Lloyd came forward and said Ragland told her about the shooting while they were dating.
A Fayette County jury convicted Ragland in 2002 of murdering DiGiuro sniper-style with a rifle, and he was sentenced to 30 years.
But the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned the ruling four years later because of a comment made by the prosecution during its closing argument implicating Ragland’s guilt because he chose not to testify. The high court also said some of the evidence was not sufficient to warrant conviction.
Ragland pleaded guilty to amended charges of manslaughter during a retrial in 2007 and was released because he’d served enough time in jail while the case went through legal proceedings. He served an additional three days of home incarceration.
It’s the fact that Ragland isn’t sitting in a cell that angers the DiGiuro family.
“We don’t think justice was done,” Mike DiGiuro said. “The guy’s out walking around.”
DiGiuro’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Ragland after the criminal case, and a Fayette County jury awarded the DiGiuros $63.3 million in August 2008.
But the DiGiuros have yet to see any of that money.
“Not a cent,” Mike DiGiuro said.
Shortly after the wrongful death suit was filed, Ragland moved to Pennsylvania. DiGiuro said he thought Ragland moved out of Kentucky to avoid paying the civil suit.
But Ragland’s legal troubles followed him to the east coast.
He served 90 days in a Beaver County, Pa., jail starting in February 2009 for driving under the influence of alcohol in October 2008, court documents show.
Police took a blood sample from Ragland, and his blood alcohol level was .252, more than three times greater than Pennsylvania’s legal limit of .08, according to court records.
Pennsylvania police cited Ragland again in January 2009, this time for harassment and driving on a suspended license, a Beaver County court clerk said.
Ragland filed a motion for a second civil trial in the wrongful death suit, but Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Clark overruled it in January 2009.
Ragland appealed the $63.3 million civil decision in 2010 with the Court of Appeals, but DiGiuro said a judge threw that out last month.
“Essentially everything is over,” DiGiuro said, regarding the civil and criminal court proceedings. “But I don’t anticipate to receive any money.”
DiGiuro heard through some friends that Ragland has moved back to Frankfort. He said friends have told him they’ve seen Ragland around town at restaurants and bars, and DiGiuro said he’s heard Ragland’s living with his mother.
DiGiuro said he has mixed feelings about Ragland’s supposed return to Kentucky.
“It’s kind of like a finger in the eye he’s still around, but on the other hand, if he’s in Kentucky and gets a job, I might be able to get some money out of him,” DiGiuro said, mentioning he could try and garnish his wages.
“If I find out he has a job, I don’t mind spending $200 to collect $100 from him; it’s a principle thing.”
Calls to Jerry Ragland, Shane Ragland’s father, weren’t returned.
The episode will air 9 p.m. Thursday on Investigation Discovery, FPB channel 102.