LAUREL COUNTY - A jury trial for a London man facing murder charges from a January 2017 incident that left one person dead and two others injured has been continued for the second time this month.
Michael Paul Collier, 39, was scheduled to have his case presented to a jury at trial Tuesday in Laurel Circuit Court, though a scheduling conflict led to the trial being set aside. According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele, a lab expert who was expected to testify was not available for Tuesday’s scheduled date. For that reason, a continuance was granted.
Tuesday’s trial date is the second this month to be continued, with the case originally being set for trial on Aug. 6. That date, however, was continued last-minute through a joint agreement with Collier’s attorney and prosecutors. At that time, Steele stated that the agreement came as the result of merely just needing more time to prepare.
“Due to the complexity of the case and the continuing discovery issues, the parties and the court needed additional time to evaluate some evidentiary issues,” said Steele, earlier this month.
Prior to this month’s two continuances, there have been multiple other trial dates throughout the life of the case that have been set aside for a variety of reasons.
A pretrial conference has been set for Sept. 12. A new trial date is expected to be scheduled at that time, according to Steele.
If and when the case does go to trial, Collier’s co-defendant, Kathy Middleton, 38, of London, is likely to be called to the stand to testify before jurors. Middleton pleaded guilty to an amended count of criminal attempt to tamper with physical evidence during an Aug. 1 court appearance as part of an agreement with prosecutors. Testifying truthfully at trial was one of the conditions prosecutors placed on her as part of the agreement.
The alleged incident occurred Jan. 24, 2017, at a Huff Road residence, where deputies with the Laurel County Sheriff’s Department were dispatched to investigate a complaint of a woman being shot at that location.
Upon arrival at the scene, a male victim, identified as Gordon Browning, of East Bernstadt, was found near his truck outside the residence with multiple gunshot wounds. Laurel County Coroner Doug Bowling later pronounced Browning dead at the scene.
Two female victims, identified as Jessica Collier, of London, and Amy Lyons, of Harrogate, Tennessee, were also found at the scene with multiple gunshot wounds.
Jessica Collier and Lyons were taken to CHI St. Joseph Health London for treatment before later being airlifted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington for specialized treatment. Both were later released.
Collier remains jailed in the Laurel County Correctional Facility under a $750,000 cash bond.