Judge denies shock probation in reckless homicide case
by Cris Ritchie
HAZARD – A Perry County woman convicted of reckless homicide will remain in prison after a request for shock probation was denied on Thursday.
Defense attorney Gerald Teaster, while arguing in favor of his motion for probation, noted that his client, 43-year-old Sarah Melton, is “extremely remorseful” about the June 2011 shooting that killed Brownsfork resident Cindy Caudill.
Melton was originally indicted on charges of murder and first-degree assault following the shooting that also seriously injured Melton’s brother, though he survived the incident and would later testify at last year’s trial. Melton had faced a potential life sentence, though the jury convicted her of lesser charges of reckless homicide and assault under extreme emotional disturbance. The jury recommended a total sentence of six years to serve.
Melton is currently serving her sentence and was not in court during her hearing on Thursday, though Teaster did call her eldest daughter, Jessica, to the stand. She testified that she receives multiple letters from her mother each week, and each one notes her remorse for what happened.
“She talks about how God forgives her, but she can’t forgive herself,” she said.
Commonwealth’s Attorney John Hansen called Caudill’s son, Jackie Caudill, to testify. He objected to any probation that would allow Melton to be released from prison early.
“I think the jury really let her off easy in this case,” Caudill said, adding that he and his sister will never see their mother again.
In objection to Teaster’s motion, Hansen argued that the jury heard the facts of the case and made its decision, and he also could not support Melton’s early release. “The jury made a recommendation in this case which we feel should be followed,” he said.
Judge Engle ultimately denied shock probation, saying that he felt the jury took all of the facts into consideration when rendering its verdict.
“I think to grant shock probation would unduly depreciate the seriousness of the charges, and I deny the motion,” Engle said.
Melton has served approximately one and a half year of her six-year sentence.
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