Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

July 12, 2013

Bond denied for ‘Nemo’ defendant

Judge cites seriousness of charges and strength of evidence in rejection

Leeann Akers

SANDY HOOK — A judge on Monday rejected a request to set bond for the Carter County man charged in the murder of Paul “Nemo” Bryant.

Elliott Circuit Judge Rebecca Phillips cited the seriousness of the charges and the strength of the evidence against the defendant in denying the request by attorneys representing Kyle S. Holbrook, 20, of Olive Hill.

Holbrook was indicted in April on charges of murder and tampering with physical evidence in the death of Bryant, who went missing in February 2011 and whose body was found in April of that year in a farm pond along Ky. 160 in Elliott County.

Monday’s hearing also revealed some previously unknown information about the high-profile case, including the type of weapon used in the slaying, a .25-caliber handgun which hasn’t been recovered.

Also, the lead investigator in the case testified Bryant’s death may have been linked to a Grayson man who was sentenced last month to 10 years in a federal prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiring with others to distribute oxycodone and cocaine in Carter County.

Kentucky State Police Detective Toby Gardner testified that witness statements had linked Bryant’s murder to Francisco Camacho Jr., who was indicted along with six others by a federal grand jury in October 2012.

Gardner said witnesses he had interviewed claimed Holbrook had been paid to bring Bryant to Camacho, and that Bryant had owed money to the dealer.

Defense attorney Brandon Music asked if there was any hard evidence linking Bryant to Camacho.

“Respectfully, Nemo Bryant had a drug problem,” Gardner said. “He was involved with anyone who could help him get his next high.”

Gardner said the pattern of communication between Holbrook and Bryant also implicated Holbrook in Bryant’s murder. According to phone records, Gardner testified, the two had shared 138 phone calls and 39 text messages in the 37 days before Bryant disappeared. However, there was only one attempt by Holbrook to contact Bryant after Bryant was reported missing.

“This is a highly publicized case,” Gardner said. “I would expect a friend to try and call the missing friend until he was found.”

A search warrant was executed at the Holbrook residence days after Bryant’s body was found in a pond on the property, according to the detective. The search led to the seizure of a host of evidence but no forensic evidence or murder weapon was collected.

Music asked that Holbrook’s bond be set at $100,000 cash or property and he be placed on monitored house arrest. But Phillips said she believed allowing the defendant an opportunity to get out of jail would be a mistake.

“Nemo was last seen with the defendant and there is no indication he went anywhere else,” Phillips said. “I find it very persuasive that these two gentlemen had communicated a total of 177 times before Nemo disappeared and only one attempt after. It is circumstantial, but very compelling.”

Members of Bryant’s family briefly but enthusiastically applauded Phillips’ decision.

“We were very pleased that Judge Phillips denied the motion for bail,” James Carroll, Bryant’s uncle, said. “We didn’t hear anything new in the courtroom today, because Detective Gardner has always been very up front about what they know. He has done a great job.”

Holbrook had requested a bond hearing at his arraignment in May after bond was not set in his case.

Music, who represents Holbrook along with Jeff Scott, indicated that another pretrial conference would need to be set in order to collect more discovery material. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Sept. 9.