Last updated: July 18. 2013 7:40PM - 630 Views
Jack Latta

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PRESTONSBURG — The Floyd County man accused of murdering a man in his sleep earlier this month appeared in Floyd County District Court Thursday for a preliminary hearing.

Ronald Wright, 64, of Printer, was led into court in shackles Thursday and then sat glumly as Kentucky State Police Det. Jason Dials gave testimony. Wright is accused of killing Famer Halbert while Halbert slept at his home on March 12.

Wright is charged with one count of murder and one count of attempted murder.

According to Dials, witnesses have told him that Ronald and Loretta Wright visited with Halbert’s wife, Lorene, for roughly a half hour before Ronald Wright asked to use the restroom. While Loretta Wright and Lorene Halbert spoke on the front porch, they heard a gunshot from inside the house.

Ronald Wright allegedly met the two in the kitchen, and took aim and shot Lorene Halbert, who ducked behind Loretta Wright. Lorene Halbert was shot in the arm. A struggle then ensued over the weapon, at which time Ronald Wright was also shot.

Family members have said that the Wrights blamed the Halberts for the death of their son, Matthew, in November.

Dials testified that Famer Halbert was killed with a high caliber handgun, and that Ronald and Loretta Wright’s vehicle was searched and a box of .357 caliber pistol shells was found.

Dials also testified that a bullet fragment was found by the Halbert family in the kitchen of the home three days after the shooting. Gunshot residue tests were taken on both the Wrights and the Halberts.

At one point, Ronald Wright’s attorney, Jerry Patton, asked Dials why Halbert was asleep at 6:30 p.m. Assistant County Attorney Tyler Green objected to the relevance of the question. Patton stated that if Halbert wasn’t asleep, then the murder was not an “assassination,” as the Commonwealth was asserting. Patton said his client “has a right to defend himself.”

Dials told the court that Ronald Wright had made statement to another KSP detective weeks before the murder, asking what would happen if he went to the Halberts’ home and “took matters into his own hands.” The Halberts had also allegedly sought to bring charges against the Wrights sometime before the shooting.

District Judge Jimmy R. Marcum remanded the case to a grand jury.

Loretta Wright appeared in court last week for a preliminary hearing in Floyd District Court. She is charged with complicity to commit attempted murder and complicity to murder, and the case against her was also sent to the grand jury.

Ronald Wright is currently being lodged in the Floyd County Detention Center, with bail set at $1 million.

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