Overturned conviction for '92 murder leads to new trial

1992 Meade County murder case could go to trial again

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A ruling by the Supreme Court of Kentucky means Keith Hardin and Jeff Clark will likely see be in front of a judge, once again.

“Tears were just flowing. We've been waiting a long time for this,” said Vickie Howser, Hardin’s sister. 

Hardin and Clark were convicted of a 1992 murder, called a satanic ritual, in Meade County.

“We're going to prove their innocence in the court of law if we ever get to trial on this,” said Hardin’s attorney, Larry Simon.

Their conviction was overturned last year by a Meade County judge. Howser told WHAS11 News that she believes this new trial will prove her brother’s innocence. 

“He's been in prison for two decades so we're beyond happy today.”

Hardin and Clark are accused of killing Rhonda Warford. Hardin and Warford had been dating and prosecutors said the crime was part of a satanic ritual. A piece of hair found at the crime scene was originally connected to Hardin and Clark, but a more recent DNA test revealed otherwise.

“The DNA analysis, it excluded Mr. Hardin from the source of that hair. That was the only physical evidence in this case,” said Simon.

It's that DNA evidence, as well as claims of questionable testimony from a lead officer on the case, that caused the Supreme Court to grant a new trial. That decision is now up to local prosecutors. 

“We've been waiting to get this case to trial if the Commonwealth is going to try it again, and they've indicated that they want to try it again,” said Simon.

Hardin's sister said she is confident her brother will be found not-guilty this time. 

“I have followed this, I have every piece of document there is. There is no evidence,” explained Howser. 

The victim's family still believes Hardin and Clark are responsible for Warford's murder. Hardin's sister said she hopes the real killer will one day be found. 

Hardin and Clark served 20 years in prison before they were released on bail in 2016. They will remain out of custody until this new trial begins. 

Right now, no date has been set.  The prosecution can still decide to drop the charges altogether.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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