CADIZ -- Trigg Circuit Judge C.A. Woodall granted a hearing Friday to determine if testimony from an expert witness would be admissible at trial in the case against Ryan Champion, an Oak Grove man who faces charges of murder, complicity to murder and kidnapping.
Champion, 36, was charged in 2014 with murder, three counts of complicity to murder and one count of kidnapping after the bodies of his father, Lindsey Champion, 62; mother, Joy Champion, 60; sister Emily Champion, 31; and his alleged accomplice Vito Riservato, 22, were found at the Champion family home.
He is scheduled to go on trial Feb. 20.
The witness in question is a forensic scientist from the Kentucky State Police crimes lab whom the commonwealth asked to testify regarding the duct tape police collected as evidence after the slayings.
Police said Champion's sister Emily was bound with duct tape when her body was found, resulting in the kidnapping charge. A roll of duct tape was later collected from Champion as a possible match to the tape that bound his sister's hands, feet and face.
Commonwealth Attorney Carrie Ovey-Wiggins said the witness was called to testify as to how he examined the tape from the sister's body to determine if it was a match to the roll of tape collected from Champion.
The defense filed a motion requesting the hearing to determine if the science behind the duct tape analysis was sound. The defense also requested similar hearings for the commonwealth's DNA, ballistics and gunshot residue experts, but the judge denied those requests seeing as the science behind those tests are already widely accepted, Wiggins said.
Woodall scheduled the hearing for Nov. 18.
The rest of Friday's nine-minute hearing was dedicated to Champion's co-defendant Ann L. Plotkin, who has added a new attorney to her defense team.
Plotkin was charged in 2015 with three counts of complicity to murder after police said she either helped facilitate the murders or knew of the plan and did nothing to stop it. Her trial has not been scheduled.
Her new attorney, Eric Stovall, is the general manager for the public defender's office. He has joined the team as Plotkin's lead counsel.
Kenneth Root, Plotkin's initial attorney, will remain on the case as co-counsel.
Stovall passed the bar in 2003, and since then, has been involved with as many as 20 murder cases, approximately six of which were capital eligible, he said. Two of those cases were taken to a jury trial.
"I'm looking forward to making a case for (Plotkin)," Stovall said following Friday's hearing.
Woodall said he had been planning to set Plotkin's trial date that day, but seeing as Stovall just joined the case, he opted to postpone until November's hearing to give the defense attorney time to get up to speed.