Man Charged in Kentucky Firefighter Slaying Appears in Court

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- A man charged with killing his wife and a Lexington firefighter in February appeared in court for the first time Wednesday for an arraignment hearing.

Patrick Hutchinson's attorney, Kirk Bierbauer, said Hutchinson was not prepared to enter a plea, so Fayette County Circuit Court Judge James Ishmael entered a not guilty plea on Hutchinson's behalf.

The case had been stalled in Fayette County District Court since February, as Hutchinson was undergoing court-ordered mental evaluations at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in LaGrange. Hutchinson was arraigned in district court via a video feed and had not appeared at several scheduled district court hearings because of the ongoing evaluations.

A Fayette County grand jury indicted Hutchinson earlier this month, moving the proceedings into circuit court.

Hutchinson was arrested on Feb. 13 after a six-hour standoff with police. Firefighters were shot at as they arrived at his home near Interstate 75 to treat his wife, who had been shot.

Lexington Fire Lt. Brenda Cowan, 40, was fatally shot as she tried to assist Hutchinson's wife, Fontaine, who was in the front yard. Another firefighter, Jim Sandford, also was shot, but survived. The window of a police cruiser also was shot out during the standoff.

Hutchinson has been indicted on two murder charges, two attempted murder charges and a wanton endangerment charge.

Hutchinson appeared Wednesday clad in an orange prison outfit and wearing ankle chains. He nodded and waved to four family members as he entered and exited the courtroom.

Hutchinson's hair was neatly combed back, a much different picture than the public last saw of him. A jail photo of Hutchinson taken shortly after his arrest showed him with unkempt hair, a black right eye and cuts and blood on his face.

During the 14-minute hearing, Hutchinson only spoke when answering Ishmael's questions.

Bierbauer said he had received a preliminary report from the psychiatric center Tuesday and asked Ishmael to set a date for a competency hearing for Hutchinson. Mike Malone, the state prosecutor for the case, objected, saying he had not yet seen a copy of the report. Malone said he might have an independent expert review the report.

Ishmael set a status hearing in the case for Oct. 1. Bierbauer said that he thought Ishmael would set a date for a competency hearing at that time.