Ky. man faces death penalty

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 14, 2005

Authorities say John David Anderson took a man’s life and for that, he could lose his own.

A Lawrence County grand jury has returned an eight-count indictment against Anderson, the man arrested in connection with the death of Arthur Boyer last month.

That indictment includes two aggravated murder charges, both of which carry death penalty specifications.

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Both murder charges are in connection with Boyer's death but are different on technicalities. One stipulates that the murder was the result of a robbery or attempted robbery and the other that the murder was the result of a burglary or attempted burglary.

This makes Anderson the second person facing the death penalty in Lawrence County right now, and the third person with a murder charge pending.

"We've certainly had our fair share of really bad crimes lately," Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr., said. "This was a very straightforward case and now we get ready for the trial."

The grand jury also chose to indict Anderson charges of first-degree aggravated robbery, first-degree aggravated burglary, second-degree aggravated arson, fourth-degree grand theft, third-degree tampering with evidence and fifth-degree abuse of a corpse. The robbery and burglary charges also carry firearms charges.

Anderson is likely to be arraigned in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court early next week, Collier said. Anderson was recently returned from Kentucky and is lodged in the Lawrence County Jail.

Anderson was arrested late on the evening of July 21 in Carter County, Ky., hours after the body of the elderly Boyer was found in his burned out residence in Deering. What started as a fire call escalated into a fatality, and authorities soon began investigating the incident as an arson that was used to cover up a murder.

It is perhaps unprecedented that two men face death row in Lawrence County at the same time. Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Frank McCown, who practiced law for many years before taking the bench, said he could not remember a time when the county had two death penalty cases pending at the same time.

"Certainly not in the time that I have been around the court," McCown said. "The death penalty has come and gone and now it is back again. It's possible that we had more than one death penalty case as an outcome of the jail break here in the 1960s, when the police chief of Ironton, Gene Markel, was killed."