February 12, 2013

Man jailed after court hearing

New charges violates probation terms

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Showing up for court landed a man in jail with new charges against him.

Christopher L. Sowards, 32, of Penny Hills Lane in Corbin, was scheduled to appear in Laurel District Court on Tuesday morning for a preliminary hearing. Sowards had been arrested on Jan. 26 by Laurel County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Scott for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and driving on a suspended or revoked operator’s license. He was arraigned on Jan. 28 on those charges and a preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 5.

But when Sowards showed up for court on Tuesday, he was hit with a warrant from the Office of Probation and Parole for violating the terms of his prior release on a conviction  of second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance from 2009. That warrant was taken out the day after Sowards’ arraignment hearing and was served by Laurel Sheriff’s Corporal Derrick Price when Sowards came to court Tuesday.

The road to Sowards’ latest arrest spans the three-year period since that first charge in 2009. Records from the Laurel County Detention Center’s website shows Sowards was incarcerated for nearly three months on a trafficking charge and was indicted in Laurel Circuit Court. He was jailed again on Feb. 16, 2010 for failing to appear in court but was released the following day.

Sowards’ criminal records remains clear from February 2010 until his arrest last month. Sowards still faces a pretrial conference in Laurel District Court on April 16 for the driving on a suspended or revoked operator’s license charge. However, the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon charge was dismissed without prejudice by a motion of the County Attorney’s Office. Without prejudice means the charge can be brought up again if another offense is committed.

Anthony Campbell with the state’s office of Probation and Parole said he could not speak specifically to Sowards’ case, but did say penalties against probationary or paroled individuals could remain regardless if charges were dismissed by the prosecuting attorney’s office.

“If anyone is on probation, they are strictly forbidden to be around firearms,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if the case is dismissed or not, the probation conditions still apply.”

Records from the Laurel County Detention Center indicate Sowards was still incarcerated at press time on Thursday morning. Court Security Officer Larry Walls assisted Price in the arrest at the Laurel County Judicial Center.