ONLY ON WDRB: Ky. Supreme Court to review drug informant death - WDRB 41 Louisville News

ONLY ON WDRB: Ky. Supreme Court to review drug informant death

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- His body was found tortured and bullet-ridden more than 16 years ago. Even though his killer is still in prison, Lebron Gaither's family blames Kentucky State Police for his death.

Now, the Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to review the controversial case of Gaither - an 18-year old drug informant who was killed during a police sting gone wrong. Attorney Dan Taylor got the notice Wednesday from the state's high court.

"It's a terrible case, terrible case," Taylor told WDRB News in an exclusive interview Sunday.

Taylor represents Gaither's grandmother, Virginia, who sued the state claiming the Kentucky State Police's alleged negligence led to her grandson's death, court records show.

Virginia Gaither has claimed that KSP had a duty to protect Lebron, who was 18 in 1996 when he agreed to become a drug informant for the Kentucky State Police to avoid an assault charge.

Days into it, his mangled body was found "tortured and murdered" in a wooded area of Casey County after he was outed.

Court records show in the two days that preceded his death, Gaither testified before two grand juries including one in Taylor County where Jason Noel was being sought on drug charges.

Noel later learned of Gaither's identity from a Taylor County grand juror, sought Gaither out and killed him, court records state.

On July 17, 1996, Gaither's mutilated body was found in a Casey County field.

"He was torn about so bad, we could not dress him. The only thing I could see was his face. Bullet-ridden. It was the worst thing I've ever seen in my life," said Virginia Gaither during a December 2009 interview.

"I am more angry with state police than I am the people who committed the crime. They had responsibility," said Shawn Gaither, Lebron's brother during that same 2009 interview.

Jason Noel is still in prison serving out his conviction for Gaither's murder.

In 2009, the state board of claims found KSP was negligent.

But since that time, both the Franklin Circuit Court and the Kentucky Court of Appeals have reversed that decision -- saying even though the facts are "egregious" and that state police's actions were "discretionary"; and therefore they are immune from litigation. The high court has since agreed to take up the issue.

Now the fight enters a new stage, and one that Taylor hopes will set a precedent and clear up some of the blurred lines between drug informants and law enforcement.

When asked whether he thinks this case could have far-reaching effects, Taylor said: "All over the country, yes."

Dan Taylor was quoted in a September edition of the New Yorker which touched on Gaither's case and the slippery slopes that often surround police informants.

Taylor also hopes this case will bring closure to Virginia Gaither, who has yet to buy a proper headstone for her grandson.

"For Virginia Gaither, it (probably) means that her grandson's death can finally be vindicated," said Taylor.

Repeated phone calls and emails seeking comment from Kentucky State Police were not returned. But Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Justice & Public Safety Cabinet, said the agency does not typically comment on pending court documents.

The case file will be transferred to the Kentucky Supreme Court, where a clerk will keep all parties informed.

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