By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — An Anderson man faces prison time, but a considerably smaller sentence after being found not guilty on one charge in a three-part drug trial.
In the first phase of the trial, Kenneth Kemp, 33, was convicted of two counts of dealing marijuana and single counts of maintaining a common nuisance and possession of marijuana on Friday. During jury deliberations for Phase 2, which was a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, Kemp also pleaded guilty to Phase 3, a sentence-enhancing habitual substance offender charge. An agreement on Phase 3 capped Kemp's sentence enlargement at four years.
On Tuesday, the jury exonerated Kemp on the handgun charge, a Class B felony, saving him up to 20 years of prison time. As it is, Kemp is looking at a maximum sentence of eight years. Deputy prosecutor Dan Kopp, who tried the case against Kemp, said he intends to recommend the maximum sentence, considering Kemp's felony-riddled history. Madison Circuit Court 6 Judge Dennis Carroll will determine the sentence on April 7.
"I feel good about the way the case turned out," said defense attorney Mark Maynard, who represented Kemp. "I appreciate the jury for holding the state to its burden of proof."
The charges against Kemp stem from an arrest in September 2012. Four co-defendants in the case have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced.
According to the probable cause affidavit, while drug task force detectives were investigating another case on Sept. 23, 2012, they smelled the strong odor of marijuana coming from two cars in the 2300 block of Morton Street. After obtaining search warrants, they found two pounds of marijuana in each vehicle.
The police tracked the marijuana to Kemp, who had allegedly been running a drug house out of his home on Morton Street along with his girlfriend, Lyncia Hinson. When detectives searched the home, they found a strong smell of marijuana, remnants of the drug and a Ruger LC9 handgun. Large amounts of cash also were found on Kemp and Hinson.
A witness told police three other men had come to the home, but said he didn't know why. Detectives tracked down the three men — Keslie Smith, Johnny McIntush and Deandre Turner.
Smith told police he had visited Kemp's house to buy marijuana and admitted he had planned on selling it. He pleaded guilty to dealing marijuana in May and was sentenced to 36 months. Turner and McIntosh pleaded guilty to possession and dealing marijuana, respectively, and each received two-year sentences. Hinson also pleaded guilty to maintaining a common nuisance in June and received a three-year sentence.
Maynard said he believes the jury acquitted on the gun charge because of lack of evidence that Kemp possessed the gun. A witness testimony during the trial indicated the gun belonged to a family member who lived at the home. Kopp said fingerprints or DNA evidence on the gun would've helped the case, but none were found.
"I'm pleased to get the convictions on the drug charges, and I respect the jury's verdict. We're disappointed they acquitted on the firearm charge," Kopp said. "It was a tough case with regard to that. It wasn't a slam dunk, and there was no specific evidence that made or broke the case."
Like Jack Molitor on Facebook and follow him @aggiejack4 on Twitter, or call 640-4883.
Kenneth Kemp, 33, Anderson Convicted: Dealing marijuana, two counts Maintaining a common nuisance Possession of marijuana Habitual substance offender Acquitted: Unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon What's next? Sentencing: April 7 Madison Circuit Court 6