This is how the criminal justice system functions:
Zachary Costin and Andrew Ward, both then 22, went to Colorado and bought 18 pounds of pot from an illegal grower. They hired another 22-year-old man to bring it back to Kentucky. Police say the man had done the same thing for them twice before. Police in Colorado later found and seized a large amount of marijuana, hashish, money and documents linked to Costin.
This time, though, the “mule” was stopped for speeding in Kansas, where police found and seized the marijuana. He was allowed to continue on to Lexington in return for cooperating with a police investigation. The man told Costin, Ward and Ethan Hatfield, 21, what had happened in Kansas and that he was cooperating with police. Hatfield, whose family has been associated with Rod Hatfield Chevrolet, and Costin were then fraternity brothers in UK’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
Costin asked the man to come to Hatfield’s home, a mansion valued at $2.5 million in McAtee Run, a gated subdivision off Tates Creek Road. He was led to the basement where Hatfield and Costin were accompanied by John Nathaniel “Porky” Cooper, 36, who introduced himself as the “person hired to kill you.”
They forced the man to take off all his clothes and snort a Xanax pill. For the next two hours, he was held against his will and tortured with a hammer, pliers and an AR-15 rifle stock. He told police the men also pointed handguns and a shotgun at him. After he agreed to pay them $45,000, he was allowed to shower and leave the house naked, but the men took his Armani watch, wallet and cell phone.
Cooper, Costin and Hatfield were indicted in April 2017 on kidnapping, robbery and assault charges. Costin and Ward were indicted on a charge of criminal conspiracy to traffic in more than five pounds of marijuana. But those charges were amended down, and the defendants pleaded guilty: Cooper, Costin and Hatfield to unlawful imprisonment, theft by unlawful taking and misdemeanor assault. Costin and Ward also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic 8 ounces to 5 pounds of marijuana.
Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Travis in May sentenced Costin to seven years, Cooper and Hatfield to five years and Ward to two years in prison. But between Aug. 7 and Sept. 10, Travis granted all four men “shock probation” — releasing them from jail in return for 15 hours of community service each year for five years.
Travis’ decision, which prosecutors didn’t oppose, came after defense attorneys filed papers saying their clients were remorseful, that they wanted to continue their education, return to their families. They claimed there was little chance the four young men would commit another crime.
Kentucky is one of a few states that allows shock probation. The idea is to give a second chance to offenders who might be “shocked” straight by a short stay behind bars.
The state, of course, keeps no statistics on the demographics of offenders who might be “shocked” straight.
Let’s also be clear; I doubt that a short stay behind bars can “shock” the stupid out of you. Their co-conspirator did the stand-up thing of informing them that he was working with the police before they imprisoned him in the basement of the suburban mansion. Then they torture him, rob him, and let him go? Did they think that without his cellphone he wouldn’t be able to get in contact with the cops?