A jury will be seated this week in Warren Circuit Court to decide the punishment for a man who admitted to causing his housemate’s death.
Justin Denihan, 26, of Bowling Green, pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of murder, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.
Denihan admitted to killing Kelly Hackett, 48, at her home at 95 Pleasant Place Way in Plano on Aug. 19, 2017, by strangling her.
He also admitted in court to cutting Hackett’s chest with a knife after her death and then putting her body into a storage tote.
On Tuesday, a jury will be seated that will hear evidence that will inform its deliberations on what penalty Denihan will receive.
Denihan faces a minimum of 20 years in prison and could receive up to 55 years or life with no chance at parole for at least 20 years.
The trial will be conducted in accord with regulations imposed by the Kentucky Supreme Court earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jurors will be required to observe social distancing guidelines while hearing evidence, meaning they will be seated at least six feet apart from one another in the gallery section of the courtroom and will wear facial coverings.
Attorneys and others involved will also be required to wear masks, though witnesses will be allowed to remove their masks while giving testimony.
At a hearing earlier this month, attorneys discussed opening a few seats in the jury box for relatives of the victim and the defendant to watch the trial in person.
Hackett’s death was investigated by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. According to prior court testimony and court filings, Denihan informed his father that Hackett had died and then brought him to Hackett’s home and showed him the storage tote where he claimed to have placed the body.
In an interview with investigators, Denihan confessed to strangling Tackett and wrapping an extension cord around her neck, according to prior testimony from then-Detective Brett Kreilein of the sheriff’s office.