A Warren Circuit Court jury convicted Tracy Boyd of engaging in organized crime and two drug trafficking counts, recommending a 30-year sentence, but found him not guilty of two counts of second-degree manslaughter.
Boyd, 53, was convicted Tuesday of engaging in a drug trafficking conspiracy with co-defendants Stephanie Silvano and Scott Bernauer and of first-degree trafficking in heroin and methamphetamine.
After hearing seven days of testimony, the 12-member jury declined to hold Boyd responsible for the overdose deaths of Joshua Kinkade and Matthew Dobring, the victims named in the two counts of second-degree manslaughter brought against Boyd.
Kinkade, 32, was found dead at his Parkhurst Drive residence Nov. 22, 2019. Dobring, 38, was found dead two days later at his home in Louisville.
Jurors also convicted Boyd of being a first-degree persistent felony offender, enhancing the punishment he could receive on the crimes for which he was convicted.
Boyd was also found not guilty of charges of first-degree trafficking in fentanyl and cocaine.
Given the option to recommend a sentence between 20 years and life in prison, the jury decided on a 30-year sentence for Boyd, who will be formally sentenced at a later date by Warren Circuit Judge Steve Wilson.
Warren County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Adam Turner made his case for the organized crime and dealing heroin and meth charges through a combination of testimony from Silvano and Bernauer and text messages from a phone registered to Boyd that appeared to reference drug activity.
“When you combine the testimony with the phone documentation, you see thread after thread creating an interwoven web,” Turner said during his closing argument. “At the end of the day, (Boyd) caught himself in it.”
During his closing argument, Turner portrayed Boyd as a wholesaler of drugs in the conspiracy, with Silvano acting as the retailer selling drugs directly to customers and Bernauer acting as a “logistics man” who delivered packages to Silvano when she did not deal directly with Boyd.
Silvano previously pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and two counts of first-degree possession of a controlled substance, while Bernauer pleaded guilty to reckless homicide by complicity and first-degree possession of a controlled substance.
Both co-defendants admitted responsibility in connection with Kinkade’s death and await sentencing.
During the trial, Silvano testified Boyd was her source for heroin starting in the spring of 2019, that Boyd gave her advice on dealing drugs while avoiding detection by police and drove Boyd to Ohio once to obtain a fresh supply of drugs.
Silvano was arrested in June 2019 on multiple drug-related charges, with police seizing substances from her home later determined through testing to be heroin, fentanyl and cocaine.
Silvano testified that after her arrest, Boyd no longer wanted to deal with her directly and used Bernauer as a middleman who ran packages to her. She also said several customers also stopped buying from her and Boyd increased his prices in his dealings with her.
Bernauer testified that he lived in an apartment next door to Boyd’s uncle Robert Cage and that he began performing various errands to Boyd that evolved into carrying packages of what he believed were drugs from the apartment and acting as a lookout outside Cage’s apartment to warn if police were coming.
After Kinkade’s death, his brother, Matthew Kinkade, identified Silvano as a source of heroin and agreed to cooperate with police to set up a controlled drug buy that led to Silvano’s arrest Nov. 22, 2019.
While in custody, she was taken to The Medical Center after claiming to have swallowed a bag of drugs, which was not recovered. It was while she was hospitalized that she identified a man she knew as “C,” later determined to be Boyd, as her heroin source, according to trial testimony.
Boyd was arrested Nov. 22, 2019, following a traffic stop, and Bernauer, who was in a vehicle traveling behind Boyd, was arrested three days later after being let go by police.
Boyd’s attorney, Alan Simpson, was critical of the drug investigation, led by the Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force, over the course of the trial.
“There’s lots of missing pieces and there’s lots of questions,” Simpson said in his closing argument. “If you’ve got that many questions, I think there’s a question about this whole case.”
During his closing argument, Simpson pointed out that police recovered no heroin, meth, fentanyl or cocaine from Boyd at the time of his arrest, found none of those drugs in his possession at any point and had no recordings of him involved in drug activity.
Police also failed to recover any drugs or money that were part of the controlled drug buy resulting in Silvano’s arrest.
Simpson also pointed out that police were unable to track Bernauer back to his apartment as he rode his bicycle from the spot where the controlled buy took place and pointed out a number of opportunities where he said police failed to adequately follow leads on other potential suspects, arguing for the jury that there was no way to know where the drugs that caused Kinkade and Dobring to die came from.
“(Police) didn’t want to look any other place (than Boyd), they got complacent and complacency brings failure,” Simpson said.
Simpson also argued that Silvano and Bernauer made for unreliable witnesses, motivated to provide information incriminating Boyd in exchange for accepting plea agreements that reduced criminal charges against them.
In a text message Wednesday, Simpson said he and Boyd were “deeply disappointed” with the verdict and an appeal is planned.
“When this prosecution began, it was because of the belief that Mr. Boyd caused the overdose deaths of two individuals,” Simpson said. “The jury found Mr. Boyd not guilty of those charges. Nonetheless, the commonwealth’s attorney’s office pursued this case based on little to no evidence of drug trafficking, and terribly flawed police work. When a person can be prosecuted and tried for drug crimes, with such questionable evidence, and a jury can recommend a 30-year sentence, something is terribly wrong.”
Boyd did not testify at the trial, but jurors were played a 20-minute video clip of a police interview in which Boyd vehemently denied involvement in drug dealing.
During his closing argument, though, Turner said Boyd made pains to conceal his involvement in the drug trade, alluding to earlier testimony from Silvano that she was advised by Boyd not to sell drugs where she lived.
Turner also suggested that Boyd kept no vehicles or residences in his name and avoided direct contact with any product as a way to avoid detection by police.
“This was not the righteous indignation of a man wrongfully accused, this was the fury of a man whose well-laid plans were foiled,” Turner said during his closing argument about the police interview. “His little house of cards had fallen all around him.”
– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.