GREENUP Johnny Bill Clark is scheduled for trial on Monday on the charges of murder, two counts of tampering with physical evidence and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
Johnny Bill Clark is accused of the 2016 murder of Anthony Rowe. However, there has already been a conviction in the murder of the 35-year-old Rowe.
J.D. Clark, Johnny Bill Clark’s son, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 35 years following a jury trial in 2017.
“How will the Commonwealth prove murder?” said Greenup County Circuit Judge Robert Conley. “All you’ll be doing is saying we were wrong.”
Prosecutor Ronnie Goldy explained that the Commonwealth has two plausible scenarios to pursue for a conviction — one is murder and the other is complicity to murder.
“The defendant allegedly fired a shot,” Goldy said.
Goldy argued that the state’s medical examiner stated the cause of death as both a shotgun shot to the head and the torso. According to eyewitness testimony, however, there were three shots fired, with J.D. Clark delivering two of them. One of those shots could have been fired by Johnny Bill Clark and it could have been the fatal shot, argued the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
J.D. Clark shot Rowe with a shotgun in the head and chest in January 2016 near Cherokee Lake in Argillite, according to the two-day testimony of Samantha Clark, Rowe’s girlfriend and J.D. Clark’s sister.
Samantha Clark said she witnessed the shooting first hand and confirmed to jurors her brother pulled the trigger. She also called 911 repeatedly on the night of Jan. 9, 2016, and told dispatchers her brother shot her boyfriend.
Goldy also argued that the case could pursue complicity to murder as Johnny Bill Clark allegedly held down Rowe as the shots were being fired by his son, J.D. Clark.
“It’ll be your burden to prove,” Conley said.
Defense attorney Sebastian Joy said that the defense has offered multiple pleas to the Commonwealth. However, none have been accepted.
“We’ve offered a number of pleas,” said Joy. Joy argued that the theory of the second shot for the murder charge would be “debunked” during the trial.
Joy also said that complicity to murder could be debunked, as Rowe and Johnny Bill Clark were wrestling prior to the murder, and J.D. Clark then came into the room to fire the shots.
“Holding him down, that’ll be debunked,” said Joy.
Joy said that J.D. Clark will be transported from the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville to testify at the trial.
“He will testify that his father had nothing to do with that day,” Joy said.
Rowe was killed inside a mobile home owned by Johnny Bill Clark at 32 Mocassin Way.
The Daily Independent previously reported that Rowe and Clark families had known each other for several years.
Rowe and Samantha Clark returned to Cherokee Lake the morning of Jan. 9. After spending most of the evening drinking, playing music and throwing darts, the mood in the room soured according to testimony by Samantha Clark and another neighbor. A scuffle broke out between Johnny Bill Clark and Rowe, Samantha Clark testified. Minutes later, her brother blasted Rowe in the chest with a shotgun, she said.
Samantha Clark dove on top of her boyfriend and tried desperately to stop the bleeding but couldn’t, she said. Then a second shotgun blast was delivered into Rowe’s head, she said, before she watched her father take the 12-gauge from her brother’s hands.
The murder trial is scheduled to take place in Greenup County Circuit Court on Monday, Tuesday and Friday of next week, starting at 9 a.m. each day.