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Second of six suspects in hatchet murder case released on bond


By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer

A second of the six defendants charged in an alleged hatchet murder has been released from jail after posting bond.

Mattie Renea Mahon, 38, of Mt. Sterling, was released from the Montgomery County Regional Jail Feb. 3 after reportedly posting a $100,000 at 10 percent bond, according to authorities.
Phillip James Tuttle, 46, of Mt. Sterling, was previously released after posting a $100,000 at 20 percent bond.

Richard Andrew McGaha, 41, of Mt. Sterling, allegedly committed the murder of Lenville “Josh” Smith, 21, and remains lodged at the Madison County Detention Center on a $100,000 cash bond.

The other three remaining defendants, Sonya Lynn Palmer, 46, of Mt. Sterling; Stanley Isaac Sargent, 39, of Morehead; and Billy Joe Adkins, 53, of Mt. Sterling, remain lodged at the MCRJ.

They were all arrested Sept. 19 and 20.

Smith was reportedly struck in the head with a hatchet during a dispute with McGaha Sept. 4 and stabbed multiple times, according to authorities.

His body was reportedly placed in a deep freeze and dumped on the side of a road in Menifee County, authorities said.

The others then allegedly either participated in the disposal of the freezer and/or attempted to clean up the crime scene. The murder allegedly occurred at a home on East Locust Street that Smith reportedly shared with McGaha.

Authorities allege that the incident stemmed from a dispute over Mahon. Both reportedly had a romantic interest in Mahon.
Mahon’s attorney previously requested that she be released on an ankle monitor, but was turned down by Montgomery County Circuit Judge William “Bill” Lane.

McGaha, according to witnesses, reportedly owned/carried a hatchet on his leg that couldn’t be located immediately after the alleged murder.
Authorities reportedly located the hatchet and knives believed to have been used in the murder Jan. 30 in the attic of a home at 143 Richmond Ave. They also reportedly recovered some clothing belonging to the victim. The home reportedly belonged to Adkins.
The items have been sent to the state crime lab in Frankfort for DNA and blood testing, authorities said.

The investigation has been conducted jointly by the Mt. Sterling Police Dept. and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities are still awaiting a positive identification on the remains found in Menifee County, but are confident they are those of Smith.
The ID is being done at the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility, better known as the Body Farm.

Smith’s sister, Danielle Smith Burton, said previously that Josh loved in play guitar and sing old county songs, even bluegrass.
The group is scheduled to appear for a status hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court 11 a.m. Feb. 28. All six have pleaded not guilty.