LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – Joseph Cambron, who admitted to stabbing to death a 12-year-old boy in Cherokee Park in September 2014, was sentenced to 13 years in prison on Friday morning. The plea agreement means Cambron will not be eligible for probation.
Cambron pleaded guilty in April to manslaughter and tampering with evidence in connection with the case.
Cambron, 26, was supposed to stand trial for the murder of 12-year-old Ray Allen Etheridge, but this guilty plea avoided that. Upon conviction, Cambron could have been sentenced to life in prison.
Before handing down the sentence, the judge asked whether there was anything the defense wanted addressed. Cambron’s attorney asked that all pronouns in the paperwork be changed from "he" to "she," because "Joey" Cambron identifies as a transgender female.
"To be honest, it's the right way to identify her," said Amy Hannah, who represented Cambron. "It's a DOC issue. We're not asking anything out of this court. We're just asking the court to change the language included in this PSI to reflect who Joey is."
The judge agreed to write his judgement addressing Cambron as female.
"I'm using feminine pronouns, because that's who Joe thinks she is," Circuit Court Judge Charles Cunningham said. "And I have no reason to question that."
The defense also submitted a confidential document relating to Cambron's social history in the hope she gets appropriate mental health treatment while incarcerated. Cunningham said he would also recommend she have mental health treatment in custody.
Ultimately, it will be up to the Department of Corrections how to categorize, house and help Cambron.
"I've had multiple conversations with Joey, and he," Hannah corrected herself addressing the judge, "she knows that she needs to share that information with classification, because I imagine they will take certain precautions for her safety."
Cambron's attorney, Mike Lemke, said in April that the plea deal was reached after the judge in the case threw out most of Cambron's confession, because she had asked police for an attorney before much of the interrogation.
"He was originally charged with murder, so this obviously isn't want we wanted all along," said Christie Foster with the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office after the sentencing.
Etheridge and his family were at the Mid City Mall on Sept. 30, 2014, when the child wandered off.
Cambron told police she was smoking a cigarette with Etheridge in Cherokee Park when, "out of nowhere," the boy punched her, stole her wallet and took off.
In recounting the incident, Cambron said she pulled a knife from her pants and chased after Etheridge, stabbing him in the back and causing him to fall to the ground where "he still tried to fight me."
"Next thing I remember, the knife is in his chest, my hand is shaking and I pulled it out," Cambron told police. "He said he was sorry, and I let him go."
Etheridge was found unresponsive in a wooded area near a campsite where Cambron was living in Cherokee Park. He died of two stab wounds in his chest and back, according to an autopsy report.
However, when the judge threw out much of Cambron's confession to police, the prosecution had to regroup.
"That greatly affected our case," Foster said. "So we had to make a decision on what. We consulted with members of the victim's family, and that's how we ended up with that resolution."
She added that Cambron's request to be addressed as a female doesn't take away the fact a child was killed. Foster hopes the community and Etheridge's family can heal now after this sentencing.
"I'm glad we can finally have some closure on this case," she said. "And hopefully, his family can move on and do a little more healing."
Cambron will get credit for time she has already served. That will be calculated by the Department of Corrections.
- Joseph Cambron pleads guilty to manslaughter in stabbing of 12-year-old in Cherokee Park
- Joseph Cambron told police he stabbed 12-year-old after altercation
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