Kentucky jury recommends death for former soldier who killed 3 children

SMITHLAND, Ky. — A western Kentucky jury has recommended a death sentence for a former soldier who admitted killing three children.

The recommendation to send Kevin Wayne Dunlap to death row came Wednesday after nearly three hours of deliberation in Livingston County Circuit Court.

Dunlap pleaded guilty Feb. 9 to the slayings along with an attack on the children’s mother at their home in rural Trigg County in 2008. Dunlap also pleaded guilty to rape, kidnapping, arson and tampering with evidence.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Glycon Lee Ovey showed photos of the three slain children — ages 17, 14 and 5 — during his closing statements.

“Three living human beings on Oct. 15, 2008 — lives worth living,” Ovey said before pointing to Dunlap in the courtroom. “But the evidence shows that this killer took that away.”

Ovey pleaded with the jury to sentence Dunlap to death.

“Three precious human beings. If ever the facts warranted the imposition of the death penalty, it’s these facts,” he said.

Dunlap’s attorney, James Gibson Jr., argued that Dunlap has mental health issues. He told the jury that Dunlap’s 7-year-old son would not understand a death sentence for his father.

“What effect is the death penalty and Kevin Dunlap’s execution going to have on his children?” Gibson asked the jury. “Their father kills some children. Killing is wrong, and to show that killing is wrong, they kill him? Does that make sense to a 7-year-old?”

The jury can recommend from 20 years in prison to the death penalty for Dunlap. Jury members heard emotional testimony from the children’s mother during the sentencing trial last week.

She said she was stabbed and left for dead after Dunlap set fire to her home, near Fort Campbell. She was able to escape, but her children died from several stab wounds, according to a medical examiner.

Related reading

Ex-soldier charged in slayings near Campbell

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