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Pulaski County Sheriff Sam Catron’s funeral, 2002

Posted on April 18, 2017 | in Uncategorized | by

Pulaski County/Somerset Rescue Unit No. 5 carried the casket of Pulaski County Sheriff Sam Catron down U.S. 27 during the processional of his funeral on April 18, 2002, in Somerset. Along the road, at the funeral and at the gravesite, thousands mourned the longtime police officer renowned for his dedication. Catron was shot and killed five days earlier, during his campaign for a fifth term, while attending a political rally and fish fry near the Shopville Fire Department. The city showed its grief community-wide. Mourners, including representatives from police agencies in several states, almost filled the 1,900 seats at the Center for Rural Development auditorium, where the funeral service was held. Thousands more stood on sidewalks, on front lawns, on front porches, and even perched on roofs along the route of the funeral procession as it moved from the development center to the cemetery. Many businesses along U.S. 27 put up signs in memory of Catron; others closed in a show of respect. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

Pulaski County Sheriff Sam Catron, 48, was campaigng for a fifth term when he was assisinated on the night of April 13, 2002, during a political rally and fish fry held by the Pulaski County Fire Department near Staab, a community about 80 miles south of Lexington. Photo by the Commonwealth-Journal

Danny Shelley, left pleaded guilty in January 2003 to the murder of Catron in return for a sentence of life in prison without a chance for parole for at least 25 years, avoiding a possible death sentence. Shelley testified that he waited in hiding for hours in woods near the fire station until he got a chance to shoot Catron, and that he carefully aimed at Catron’s head so he wouldn’t risk shooting anyone else. After the shooting, he fled on a motorcycle. Police quickly caught Shelley, and he implicated two other men: Kenneth White, a drug dealer, pictured center, and Jeff Morris, a former deputy running against Catron. Shelley and White were helping Morris in his campaign. Morris said White hoped to install an ally in the sheriff’s office to protect his drug dealing and came up with the idea to kill Catron. Morris also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life without parole for at least 25 years. A jury convicted White, 58, of masterminding the plot, and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Shelley has said he got hooked on painkillers after getting hurt at a factory where he worked. Shelley said White gave him drugs, and, with Morris’ assistance, manipulated him into pulling the trigger at a time when he suffered impaired judgment. Photos by Trevor Frey, The Commonwealth Journal

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