March 8, 2014
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Supreme Court is set to hear an appeal in the long-running case of an escaped inmate from the Bryan County Jail in Durant facing a death sentence in the fatal kidnapping of a Kentucky distillery worker.
The justices will hear the case of 56-year-old Michael Dale St. Clair on March 13 in Frankfort. St. Clair is appealing the conviction and sentence out of Hardin County in the 1991 kidnapping of Francis “Frank” Brady of Bardstown. Prosecutors say St. Clair and an accomplice snatched Brady from a rest stop along Interstate 65. Brady was later found shot to death in neighboring Bullitt County.
St. Clair has also been sentenced to death in Bullitt County on a charge of murder. The justices heard an appeal in that case in February.
Prosecutors said Brady and another escaped inmate, Dennis Gene Reese, were on a multi-state crime spree when they kidnapped Brady to steal his truck and later killed him near Lebanon Junction.
Reese and St. Clair had broken out of the Bryan County Jail on Sept. 19, 1991. At the time, St. Clair was serving life sentences for murder and Reese was awaiting trial on charges of strangling and beating a woman to death.
At the time of the escape, St. Clair was awaiting transfer to prison after being convicted of the murders of his uncle, Ronnie Lee St. Clair, and William Henry Kelsey Jr., the man he had hired to kill his uncle.
The two men are also charged in New Mexico with the 1991 kidnapping and shooting death of 22-year-old Timothy Keeling of Denver.
Prosecutors say St. Clair and Reese posed as buyers interested in purchasing Keeling’s truck, then kidnapped him. Reese drove as Keeling sat next to him and St. Clair held a .357 magnum revolver in the passenger seat. They stopped near Clayton, N.M., a small crossroads town, where prosecutors say St. Clair ordered Keeling out of the truck and shot him.
St. Clair’s case has bounced around Kentucky’s legal system for two decades. He has been tried three times in Hardin County.