PORTSMOUTH — As a result of Tuesday’s arraignment, a former Scioto County Sheriff’s Office corrections officer pleaded not guilty and had his bond set at $100,000.
At the Scioto County Court of Common Pleas, presiding Judge Howard Harcha heard from the defendant, Billy Thompson, and the State of Ohio serving as the prosecution.
Before hearing from either of the sides, Harcha announced the three charges Thompson was originally indicted on Friday. Those charges – murder, an unclassified felony; voluntary manslaughter, a felony of the first degree; and reckless homicide, a felony of the third degree – held varying fines and prison sentences.
If convicted with the murder of inmate Kevin Bailey, a 56-year-old from Portsmouth who died following a May 26, 2020, altercation at the county prison, he would face a maximum fine of $15,000 and 15 years to life in jail.
Representing his client, Cincinnati-area defense attorney Stew Matthews described Thompson as a family man with three children and in cooperation with the investigation.
The lifelong Scioto County resident served the office for multiple years before doing contract work overseas with the U.S. Department of Defense and received an honorable discharge for his service with the Army.
While no longer employed by the Sheriff, Matthews said Thompson found work with Dish and has been doing so since July.
“He has absolutely no prior criminal record of any kind and I would like to see the court set a very reasonable bond,” Matthews said during the Tuesday afternoon session.
Joel King, a prosecuting attorney representing the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in the matter, agreed that Thompson has done what has been asked so far in the earlier legal proceedings.
When asked by Harcha, he did not categorize Thompson as an immediate flight risk. King also said since his status as a corrections officer no longer exists, neither does his status as a risk to the community.
With the case being of notable significance, however, the prosecution said the number of witnesses serving as former Thompson colleagues had to be considered as the case progresses.
“There is always some concern of influencing by speaking with all these co-workers and friends,” said King, also based out of Cincinnati. “I had spoken with a member of the victim’s family who said, especially in this day of social media that there was some outbursts that she received. I am concerned generally that there is a restriction from talking to the victim or the victim’s family as well as witnesses in this case.”
Taking in these sides, Harcha accepted the non-guilty plea and set the bond while allowing Thompson to sign on with several conditions. He will be electronically monitored with an ankle bracelet and be under a curfew. The judge set the curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. to allow Thompson to go to work.
Any question on the curfew, which Thompson asked about his ability to go to church, would be a matter of calling the bailiff for approval from Harcha.
All firearms in his possession will be collected by the probation office tomorrow at his residence at 10 a.m., nor will Thompson be permitted to consume alcohol or drugs or hold contact with the Bailey family members or any potential witnesses.
Before being released from custody later Tuesday, which would be done following the sign-on bond, Harcha required Thompson to be fingerprinted.
A pre-trial date was not set, as Harcha said a review of Ohio Criminal Rule 46 needed to take place.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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