VIDEO | Woman arrested after allegedly bringing heroin and hypodermic needle into Louisville courtroom
The arrest prompted a candid exchange between a district judge and a defense attorney, in which the judge called Louisville's drug epidemic both "mind-boggling" and "terrifying."
WARNING: Video contains some profanity. Viewer discretion is advised.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A West Point, Kentucky, woman was arrested Wednesday after authorities say she brought a hypodermic needle and suspected heroin into a courtroom for her hearing.
According to an arrest report, 28-year-old Kati Karcher was in Room 203 of the Hall of Justice at around noon, when someone saw a needle in her front jacket pocket.
She was subsequently searched and Jefferson County Sheriff's Office deputies found suspected heroin in her front jacket pocket.
When Jefferson District Judge Stephanie Burke was shown the suspected heroin, she called Karcher before her.
"Alright Ms. Karcher, obviously don’t make any comments about the facts of what’s going here, but you understand that you’ve put yourself in a really bad situation by coming to court with anything on your person -- you understand?" Judge Burke said, according to a video of the hearing.
Karcher, who started crying at this point, said something undecipherable before the judge interrupted her.
"You obviously should have known that you had warrants against you for failing to appear in court in circuit court," Judge Burke said. "You have a very good lawyer, okay?"
"The big problem here is you need to address what’s going on with you," Judge Burke added. "Your judgment is obviously seriously impaired by your addiction, because if it were not, you wouldn’t be coming to court with that on you, alright? Okay, so your judgement is very impaired."
"The hole -- the legal hole -- that you're digging for yourself keeps getting bigger," Burke said. "So this is time for you to get honest with you -- I see your family is here -- okay, it's time for you to get honest with you about treatment, and what are you going to do to address the situation that you're in."
Karcher can be seen crying and nodding her head.
"So that's what you need to do," Burke said. "You're going to have some time to do it. I assume you're going to have to go to detox, but you're going to need to address it. You need to ask to be put in the 'Enough is Enough' dorm."
"Good luck to you," Burke said. "I hope that you get it together because if not, your situation is going to continue to get worse. You're going to end up in prison. Good luck."
Moments later, a Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy -- apparently unaware of what happened -- approached the judge's bench.
"I've got a hypodermic needle sitting in my chair there," the deputy tells Burke. "Her mother advises me that she is not a diabetic…"
"No kidding," Burke replied, adding that the hypodermic needle will have to be seized as evidence.
"I've just never had a hypodermic in my cell before…" the sheriff's deputy says a moment later.
"Is it loaded?" Judge Burke asked.
"I don’t know," the sheriff's deputy replied, adding that he just happened to see it as he was passing through the room.
"Then you need to put gloves on -- you all need to put gloves on -- because if it's loaded, you all need to be very careful, particularly if it's Fentanyl," Burke said.
A candid exchange
Moments later, the courtroom microphone captured a candid conversation between Burke and defense attorney Rob Chandler, who represented Karcher.
Burke said she was worried because the local heroin supply had been tainted by Fentanyl, making the drug even more dangerous.
"The whole supply here is tainted right now," Burke said. "It's why everybody is dropping dead."
"You want me to show you something?" Burke asked, pulling out her smart phone and showing it to Chandler. "This is really, really….I went and talked to the 'Enough is Enough' dorm yesterday. Do you see this list of 17 people? That's all the kids I've known who've died since the first of the year."
"I've had nine die in the last year," Chandler offered.
"That’s since January 1," Burke said. "Seventeen since January 1."
"Wow," Chandler replied.
"It’s…it's like mind-boggling," Burke said.
"So what's the answer?" Chandler replied.
Burke said one solution would be stopping the supply from coming into the country.
"It’s coming in through Mexico and Canada -- like West Coast," she said.
She also lamented how financially profitable selling drugs can be -- and the ease by which it can be proffered to minors.
"It's really, really, really, really bad stuff," she said. "And it’s everywhere. I mean, kids can get it. It's terrifying…"
At one point, Burke referenced an epidemic of drugs inside the jail.
"So you know how they're getting into the jail now?" she asked. "They're soaking post cards and mail and drying it and mailing it in. That's the number one way into this jail -- one of the number one ways into the jail."
"They put it in liquid," she added. "It's just plant matter soaked in chemical, just like meth. You make it just like meth."
Karcher was charged with possession of a controlled substance (heroin), possession of drug paraphernalia and promoting contraband. She is currently being held in Louisville Metro Corrections.
"Well, I got my hands full with her," Chandler tells Burke in the video.
"Yeah, you do," Burke replied.
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