By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Despite being shot in the foot, a Laurel woman managed to crawl to safety following a domestic dispute early Sunday morning.
It was a pitch black night when 37-year-old Gena Smith yelled for help as she lay on a neighbor’s porch on Locust Grove Road, six miles south of London. She was bleeding from a wound to her foot — a wound caused by her boyfriend, 36-year-old Richard Lawson, whom police found passed out in a rear bedroom of the couple’s residence with the gun he used to shoot at Smith still in his hands.
The investigation by Laurel County Sheriff’s Deputies Brett Reeves and Shawn Boroviak revealed Lawson was extremely intoxicated and had begun shooting at Smith during an argument just before 3 a.m. Sunday. Smith was trying to leave the residence when Lawson reportedly opened fire with a .22 caliber rifle, striking her in the ankle. The couple’s 11-year-old son was reportedly inside the home when the shooting took place.
Smith had fled to the safety of a neighbor’s home a few houses from her own, and was transported to Saint Joseph London by Ambulance Inc. of Laurel County for her injury. As of Tuesday morning, Smith was not listed as a patient at the London hospital.
Lawson was taken to the Laurel County Detention Center on charges of first-degree assault (domestic violence) against Smith and first-degree wanton endangerment due to the child being present during the altercation. Kentucky State Police Sgt. Steve Walker and Trooper Les Moses assisted at the scene and Laurel County Sheriff’s Detective Daryl Zanet is continuing the investigation into the incident.
Lawson was arraigned in Laurel District Court on Monday morning and placed under a $25,000 cash bond. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday morning in Laurel District Court. At that time, he can waive his right to a hearing and have his case sent before a Laurel grand jury to hear the evidence in that case. His other option is to conduct the preliminary hearing and have the investigating officer present the evidence before the district judge, with Lawson’s attorney asking questions regarding the case. Should Lawson chose that venue, the district judge can decide if a felony offense has been committed or not. The district judge will then either deal with the case as a misdemeanor offense or refer the case to a grand jury who could return a felony indictment against Lawson.
This incident is not the first run-in with the law for Lawson. He lists a long legal history dating back to 1998 in which he was charged with possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, DUI, fourth-degree assault and criminal mischief/terroristic threatening. In 2002 he was charged with first-degree assault and violation of an Emergency Protective Order. In October 2006, he had another assault charge. With several bench warrants for failing to appear for court dates coming in 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2011, Lawson was also charged with wanton endangerment and a bench warrant in 2012.