Jury Selection Process Starting Soon For Calloway Co. Quadruple Homicide, Arson Case
The trial for what could be the first death penalty case in Calloway County in 100 years is set for January 7.
In Calloway County Circuit Court on Monday, Judge Jamie Jameson indicated the jury selection process will begin soon for the case involving 23-year-old Pascasio Pacheco of Mayfield.
Pacheco is accused of shooting his aunt and uncle (Marisol Hernandez-Arallano and Bulmaro Arellano) in Calloway County and setting fire to their home, killing their two small children (Marisol and Miguel) in November 2015.
His charges are four counts of murder as well as first-degree burglary, first-degree arson, tampering with physical evidence and first-degree assault. He is lodged in the Calloway County Detention Center.
Prosecution is seeking the death penalty.
Defense Attorney Joanne Lynch of Shelbyville is filing several motions, discussed on Monday. One seeks to have the court declare the death penalty unconstitutional in Kentucky, another seeks mediation. The third seeks to question potential jurors about their views on the death penalty as well as race and ethnicity and familiarity with the case.
Lynch detailed the death penalty's rarity in the state as well as declining public opinion. She is urging the court to consider life without parole and other punishments. Kentucky has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 2010, but cases are still pursued each year.
More background on the death penalty in Kentucky, from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Mark Blankenship told local media the case meets the criteria for the death penalty. "In this case, it does because of the fire. You've got the arson. That's the felony-murder rule. While he's killing these people, then he also commits another crime, which actually led to the death of the daughter and the son," he said, adding there was evidence of stab wounds in the boy's neck and that the fire - the lack of oxygen - had killed both children. He said he looks to Jameson to deny the motion of unconstitutionality.
Lynch noted the Mexican government has had an interest in this case. She said a consular official and a lawyer from the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program had been in touch. She said in her explaining the mediation that the matter is intra-family and has "significant language barriers." She said a formal process where parties could come together could be fruitful.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney James Burkeen said he did not think mediation would be fruitful. "I'm not going to say a settlement would ever be reached. But I don't know that mediation would be more likely or less likely," he said.
Jameson questioned whether mediation would "inject value" at this point, but asked the defense to file the motion within a couple weeks. Blankenship later told media that an individual from the MCLA had tried to convince them not to seek the death penalty, but prosecution has been clear from the beginning: "The only way we would not seek the death penalty is if the parents - or if the closest victims that are left, which we believe is the mother and father of Marisol (the adult female killed)... We said earlier, if they had a problem with the death penalty we would honor their request. We would not seek it over their objection." Blankenship the parents said wanted the jury to make the choice.
Blankenship said he does not know whether Pacheco is an American citizen and does not know the whereabouts of his parents. "When you look at Pacheco's early statements... he really thought all that would happen is that he'd be deported," Blankenship said Pacheco's conduct should be the determining factor in this case, not his ethnicity or origin. Lynch was not reachable by phone seeking clarification.
Prosecution didn’t object to the voir dire (preliminary questioning) of prospective jurors.
Blankenship said hundreds of people will be needed to start the jury process, which could take several days. Judge Jameson said he did not want to delay the case.
Blankenship said the last death penalty case in Calloway was that of Lube Martin in 1917, a black man who was sentenced for the shooting death of police officer Guthrie Diuguid, according to The Story of Calloway County 1822-1976 by Dorothy and Kerby Jennings.