Curry found guilty of intentional murder

By Joe P. Asher jasher@civitasmedia.com

February 20, 2014

A man accused of murder has been found guilty by a jury following a trial that wrapped up Thursday in Harlan Circuit Court.

Robert Curry, 40, was arrested by Kentucky State Police over a year ago on charges stemming from the death of Bruce Penix.

Curry was charged with murder, second-degree disorderly conduct, menacing and resisting arrest.

Special Judge David Williams presided over the proceedings with Commonwealth’s Attorney Parker Boggs and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Karen Davenport and Jonathon Lee representing the state.

Curry’s attorney Doug Asher began Curry’s defense after the state rested its case.

Asher called several witnesses, including Brenda Sue Napier.

According to Napier’s testimony, she was the fiancée of Penix, and the couple had been together for 14 years.

Napier stated she spoke to Penix at approximately 11:30 p.m. the night before his body was found on the floor close to Curry.

Napier said she heard the voice of Curry and an unknown person in the background.

Napier also testified that she slept with Johnny Anderson, the man who made the initial 911 call to report the incident, about three or four months after the death of Penix.

Asher also called Sheriff Marvin J. Lipfird to the stand to testify concerning Anderson’s trustworthiness.

Lipfird stated from the witness stand that Anderson did not have a good reputation for telling the truth. Lipfird further testified that he believed Anderson to be an untruthful person.

Asher rested his defense after approximately one hour, and the court moved on to closing arguments.

Asher told the jury that the state had not proven its case.

“What did they really prove besides Penix is dead?” asked Asher. “We already knew that.”

Asher also argued Anderson could not be believed, calling him the state’s “chief witness.”

Boggs closed the case for the state, advising the jury that closing arguments are not evidence.

“This is not a TV program that we can turn on and find the answer in 60 minutes,” said Boggs.

Boggs also told the jury Anderson was not the state’s chief witness.

“My chief witness is Det. Cornett,” said Boggs, referring to Kentucky State Police Trooper Mike Cornett, who investigated the case.

Boggs also reminded the jury of evidence the state had presented, including Curry’s DNA underneath Penix’ fingernails.

The jury retired to chambers at approximately 2:50 p.m. to deliberate.

After nearly two hours of deliberation, the jury returned with a verdict of guilty on the charge of intentional murder. All other charges were dismissed by directed verdict.

After hearing the verdict, Curry was allowed to confer with family members. After a short time, Curry became hostile, yelling “everybody in this court lied on me, you know you did!”

Curry was then removed from the courtroom before returning to hear the jury’s sentence recommendation.

The jury recommended a sentence of 25 years, which would make Curry eligible for parole in 20 years.

Curry’s sentencing is set for April 8.

Joe P. Asher can be reached at 606-573-4510, ext. 113, or on Twitter @joe_hde