Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 5, 2013

Guilty plea in fatal assault in Grayson

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

GRAYSON — One of two men charged in a New Year’s Day 2012 assault that left another man dead pleaded guilty to a reduced charge on Monday.

Bryan K. Rice, 39 of Grayson, entered a guilty plea to a charge of facilitation to first-degree manslaughter in Carter Circuit Court.

In so doing, he agreed to accept a five-year sentence, and to cooperate in the prosecution of his co-defendant, Clifford V. “Boomer” Cathey, 35, also of Grayson.

Rice also avoided the possibility of a 10- to 20-year prison sentence by accepting the plea deal, which was arranged by former Carter Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Conn, who was defeated by Brandon Ison of West Liberty in the May Democratic primary and whose term ended Dec. 31.

Rice and Cathey both were charged with assaulting Heath Toney, 42, of Grayson. The attack occurred shortly before dawn near the intersection of Fourth Street and Robert and Mary Avenue.

Testimony at a preliminary hearing revealed that both men admitted to police they had argued with Toney before the assault and Rice admitted knocking him to the ground. The testimony did not make clear what started the fight or what happened after Toney was knocked down.

Toney died on Jan. 13, 2012, at Cabell Huntington Hospital. He was brought to the hospital in a coma and underwent emergency brain surgery, but never regained consciousness.

After Toney’s death, Grayson police said they would pursue murder charges against the defendants. However, a grand jury opted to indict the two for first-degree manslaughter. Cathey also was charged with being a persistent felony offender.

The indictment alleges Cathey and Rice struck and kicked Toney with the intent to cause him serious physical injury, resulting in his death.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.