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April 8, 2014

Judge to decide on Phelps’ release

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — After nearly six months in jail, a former school administrator awaits a judge’s decision on whether he will be released on shock probation.

Clad in an inmates’ orange jumpsuit, Charles Douglas Phelps, 54, appeared in Laurel Circuit Court on Thursday afternoon with his attorneys — Gary Crabtree and Conrad Cessna — for a shock probation hearing.

Presiding over the hearing was Special Judge Jeff Burdette, who was appointed to hear the case when Laurel Circuit Judge Tom Jensen recused himself on the issue.

After hearing from both the defense and prosecuting attorneys, Burdette said he would render his decision as to Phelps’ release in a written document next week.

Many of Phelps’ family and friends attended the hearing to show their support.

Crabtree addressed the court, stating he would not reiterate the specifics of the case but added Phelps had already served 163 days of his three-year sentence as of the date of the hearing.

“Mr. Phelps has no prior criminal history of any kind whatsoever until this case,” Crabtree said. “He has been a model citizen of this community and was almost always involved in civic activities. He served on the United Way board and was a volunteer for 30 years. He was on the (Laurel County) Fairgrounds board and served as chair, and was very involved in public events. He has been in the Ruritan Club for over 35 years and participated in fundraising efforts for the Little League, TLC House, Sunrise Children’s Services.

“Due to this case, he has lost his home, his life savings, and is a convicted felon,” Crabtree continued. “It is clear he is depressed and that incarceration has taken a toll on him. If the word ‘shock’ has any meaning, this has certainly been a shock for him. He has lost his job; he has lost everything.”

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North Laurel won its second straight Senior League State Championship with a 6-3 decision over Lewis County. Much of this same team also won a state title as 11-year-olds.

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