A Pike district judge’s decision to divert the alcohol intoxication charge against a high school basketball official this weekend has the prosecutor in the case contemplating an appeal.
Pike District Judge Kelsey E. Friend Jr. on Wednesday, ruled to divert the alcohol intoxication charge against Jennifer Dale Hilton, 29, of Harlan County, for six months with the only condition being that she not violate the law or the charge can be reinstated.
Pike County Attorney Howard Keith Hall said Thursday Friend’s decision had been done without the approval of his office.
“I think they should have let the ink dry,” Hall said, saying that the outcome might have been the same had his office prosecuted it, but the case moved too fast. “We might do that, but we wouldn’t have done it two days later.
“We’ve not even begun the prosecution of that case yet,” he said. “We haven’t even spoken with the officer.”
Hilton had served as an official in the 15th Region Tournament games held at the Eastern Kentucky Expo Center Friday night, and was arrested, along with fellow official Stephen Brock, 53, of Knox County, after Brock was contacted by police in the downtown parking garage.
Hilton was a passenger in a car driven by Brock, who was charged with DUI.
The arrest citation in the case said Hilton admitted to drinking earlier in the day and had red, glassy eyes, slurred speech and was very unsteady on her feet.
The charges against Brock were still standing as of Thursday and he is set to be arraigned on March 25.
Hilton’s arraignment was set for March 26.
Hall acknowledged that charging the passenger in a DUI vehicle is a controversial practice, but still said his office will investigate the case further before deciding whether to ask Friend to reconsider his decision.
“I don’t know who got it thrown out — we didn’t,” Hall said.
Russ Cassady is a Staff Writer for the Appalachian News-Express in Pikeville, Ky.