Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 8, 2012

Bat killer to spend more time in prison

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

ASHLAND — A Carter County man convicted in 2010 of killing endangered Indiana bats at Carter Caves State Resort Park will have to spend additional time in prison.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward B. Atkins recently sentenced Lonnie W. Skaggs, 33, of Olive  Hill, to a year for violating the terms of his supervised release.

Skaggs was originally sentenced to eight months, to be followed by a year of supervised release, for violating the federal Endangered Species Acts. Skaggs and his co-defendant, Kaleb Carpenter, both pleaded guilty to killing 105 bats hibernating in Laurel Cave on Oct. 26 and 27, 2007, by crushing them with rocks, flashlights and their feet. Twenty-three bats were killed the first night; 82 the second.

The killings drew horror and outrage from wildlife-protection advocates, who said they could not have occurred at a worse time because the Indiana bat population had already been decimated by a disease known as white nose syndrome.

Carpenter, who did not participate in the second round of killings, was sentenced to three years’ probation.

According to court records, Skaggs’ supervised-release violations stemmed from his failure to register as a sex offender, and his “untruthful” statement to a federal probation officer that he had spoken to his state probation officer, who had told him he wasn’t required to register.

Skaggs was convicted of third-degree sexual abuse in Elliott County in 2004 for attempting to have sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl. He maintained the conviction did not qualify as a crime that required him to register as a sex offender, but Atkins concluded Kentucky law in place in 2004 “clearly” required Skaggs to register.

Atkins dismissed the violation about Skaggs allegedly lying to a probation officer, saying he could not conclude from a “preponderance of evidence” the infraction had occurred.

Skaggs also admitted to violating the conditions of his release by pleading guilty to a state charge of fourth-degree assault, by possessing a firearm or other dangerous weapon, by failing to notify the U.S. Probation Office prior to a change in residence or employment and by failing to notify the probation office of being arrested or questioned by law enforcement.

Skaggs is lodged in the Carter County Detention Center.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or

(606) 326-2654.