The three adults charged in a 2019 homicide are all being held on a $500,000 cash bond following their arrests Friday.
Kendrick R. Bixler, 19, of Frankfort, 37-year-old Samuel Payne of Frankfort, and 19-year-old Damaja Antonie-Raquann Hardy, 19 of Simpsonville, are all charged with complicity to commit murder for the death of 73-year-old Ronald Thornton on Oct. 1, 2019.
The charge is a capital offense. According to state statute, complicity can include soliciting or engaging in a conspiracy, aids or counsels a person in planning or committing an offense, or failing to prevent a crime.
A juvenile, who was 17 at the time, was arrested two months after the death and charged with murder, a capital offense.
Franklin Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland said the juvenile remains in custody, but had not been indicted by the grand jury. The Kentucky Supreme Court, though, has ordered that all grand jury sessions should be suspended or conducted remotely until April 1.
Bixler, Payne and Hardy were all 18 or older at the time of Thornton's death, Cleveland said.
On Monday morning, Franklin District Judge Kathy Mangeot entered not guilty pleas for all three men during their arraignments. She also scheduled a preliminary hearing for Tuesday, Jan. 19.
In district court, anyone with a felony charge receives an automatic not guilty plea. A preliminary hearing is used to determine whether there is probable cause for the charge. A defendant also has the choice to waive the preliminary hearing and send the case to the grand jury for its consideration.
The 17-year-old was arrested in late 2019 and charged with murder. Because he was a juvenile, his name has not been released. Juvenile court proceedings are closed to the public and the files are confidential.
Franklin Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland said previously he intends to charge the juvenile as an adult.
Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies were called to Thornton’s home on Pea Ridge Road following a 911 hang-up call around 6 a.m. Oct. 1, 2019.
Thornton died from multiple gunshot wounds, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Kentucky State Police is handling the investigation.