Instead of going to trial Wednesday in Laurel District Court, former Kentucky State Police Trooper James Phillip Moore, who was charged with beating Richard McCrystal after taking him into custody in Dec. 2006, entered an Alford plea to the assault charge, while pleading guilty to official misconduct.

According to court officials, Moore entered an Alford plea to fourth-degree assault, meaning he is not admitting his guilt but understands there may be enough evidence to convict him.

In return, District Court Judge John Knox Mills, sentenced Moore to 6 months in jail, ordering him to serve 14 days. The balance will be probated for 24 months provided more have no further legal violations during that period. In addition, Moore must relinquish his Peace Officer Professional Standards certification.

Court officials said Moore has been ordered to report to jail by 8 p.m. Sunday. Because he lives and works in Knox County, he will be permitted to serve his sentence in the Knox County Jail and will be allowed work release.

Moore and fellow state trooper Mark Ridener were indicted by a Laurel County Grand Jury in Aug. 2007 on misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree assault and first-degree official misconduct.

The charges were dismissed in Nov. 2007 when the defendants filed motions requesting the charges be dismissed, arguing the statute under which they had been charged was unconstitutionally vague.

Citing the defendants’ arguments and a lack of opposition the prosecution, then District Court Judge Michael O. Caperton upheld the motion.

The ruling was appealed to Laurel Circuit Court where it was overturned.

Moore appealed that decision to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, which denied discretionary review, meaning the court declined to hear the appeal.

The case was set to go to trial July 31. However, days before the trial was scheduled to begin, Ridener pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to six months in the Laurel County Detention Center. He was ordered to serve 60 days with the balance probated provided he have no further violations of the law within the next year.

Staff writer Dean Manning may be reached at dmanning@sentinel-echo.com.

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