Judge won't lower bond in child abuse case

Apr. 26—CATLETTSBURG — An Ashland man accused of felony child abuse will stay in Boyd County Detention Center on a $100,000 bond after a 10-month-old was reported unresponsive inside his residence.

On Friday, a Boyd County Sheriff's deputy testified a person "couldn't walk in there without having bugs on you," when describing the conditions of a home where Boyd County EMS responded to help an infant that was not breathing last year.

The deputy's testimony was given during a bond hearing for Michael Gearheart, II, 30, who was indicted by a Boyd County grand jury in September 2023 on charges of first-degree criminal abuse of a child, possession of drug paraphernalia and trafficking marijuana in September 2023.

Facing questioning by Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Conn, the deputy said he responded to the residence to assist in executing a search warrant after the infant was transported to an area hospital.

Per his testimony, a toxicology screen revealed the child tested positive for THC, a marijuana compound, and was diagnosed with pneumonia, which Conn theorized was from ingesting something.

The deputy said the child survived and was placed into foster care.

During the execution of the search warrant, the deputy said he located a gallon-sized bag of the marijuana in a bedroom allegedly belonging to Gearheart and Patricia Alexander, 20.

Alexander was indicted along with Gearheart on the same charges.

When asked about the conditions of the trailer, the deputy said cockroaches were present throughout the house, including on furniture, inside drawers and on beds.

Gearheart's attorney, Joseph Thompson, argued the potential danger to the child by Gearheart was "reduced significantly" since they are no longer in Gearheart's custody and the public at large faced no threat.

A report with Gearheart's risk assessment showed low scores despite Boyd Circuit Judge George Davis's review of a "rather lengthy" criminal history.

Davis said Gearheart had previous charges that included willful obstruction of law enforcement and multi-state drug charges.

"A large amount of marijuana was found here," Davis said, referencing the bag of marijuana located at the home.

"I don't for the life of me see how he could score low," Davis added, believing Gearheart posed a flight risk and a danger to the public "at the very least."

Davis said Gearheart's bond will remain as set.

He will reappear on June 14.

(606) 326-2652 — mjepling@dailyindependent.com