We usually don't use our editorial space to write about matters from the criminal justice beat but we feel the need to today in addressing two recent incidents in Carter County that warrant attention. The first event was a very serious apartment fire and the second was the filing of a murder charge against a woman who, according to authorities, delivered what proved to be a fatal dose of opioids to a Carter County man in January.
First, the apartment fire. It appears to us a potential catastrophe was avoided at an Olive Hill apartment complex in May.
Last week we published a story on the front page from the criminal justice beat detailing the indictment of an Olive Hill man on allegations he set an early morning apartment complex fire.
Harvey J. Middleton, 49, was indicted by the grand jury on the class A felony charge of first degree arson and 10 counts of first degree wanton endangerment, also class D felonies, according to court documents.
The fire at 163 and 175 West Tom T. Hall Boulevard in Olive Hill badly damaged the 12-unit apartment complex. Of course, to the property owners and those who lived at the apartment complex, this is a devastating event in and of itself. Property, abodes, investments and peace of mind were all lost in this very serious event for Olive Hill.
According to court records Middleton allegedly told police an altercation led to him burning his wife's clothing, which in turn started the fire. Mr. Middleton is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise.
With this said it is our observation this already terrible event could have evolved into a true catastrophe given the time of the event. Court records indicate the incident unfolded at 4 a.m. -- a time when we suspect all of the apartment complex residents were sleeping.
One must presume at this point some basic facts that limited the damage from this fire. One, the building must have been well constructed and met code as far as fire alarms/smoke detectors were considered. Two, the first responders who came across this fire did a heroic job in alerting all authorities involved -- and residents -- that the fire was underway.
Today we express our appreciation to all involved in helping make sure a terrible situation wasn't even worse.
Next, we address the tragic story of a fatal drug overdose in Carter County in January. The victim was found dead at a Carter County residence -- a comprehensive investigation led to the arrest of Tina Hope Mullins, 44, of Grayson, on a charge of murder and trafficking in controlled substance heroin. A second individual, John D. Hammonds, 58, of Grayson is charged in the case with buying or possessing drug paraphernalia and first degree trafficking a controlled substance.
The same caveat that applied to Middleton's case applies to the cases of those charged above. They are presumed innocent. It will be up to the court system to discern guilt or innocence.
With this said we do agree in general with the concept of charging anyone who delivers a fatal dose of heroin with murder. The lethality of the opioids scourge is well-documented to say the least. Everyone involved knows they are engaging in an ultimately deadly endeavor. We believe filing murder charges in such circumstances is warranted and sends the message our area has no tolerance for those who traffic in heroin.