Murder case sparks second plea bargain

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By Molly Haines

A second man has plead guilty to lesser charges in the 2012 murder of a Franklin County man whose body was dumped on the side of Interstate 64.
James Simons, 37, of Grant County, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter, first-degree robbery, first-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence.
Simons’ trial began March 17 but ended early on March 18 in a plea agreement.
Simons was sentenced the same day to 25 years in prison. He will have to serve 17 years of his sentence before he will be eligible for parole.
According to his lawyer, Simons was an “Intellectually challenged drug addict” who became involved in a terrifying situation.
Simons, along with Joshua Hammond, 33, and David Bruce II, 46, both of Owen County, allegedly planned to rob Charles Monroe after purchasing prescription pills from him in the Walmart parking lot on Leonardwood Drive in Frankfort May 5, 2012.
Each of the three men were originally charged with murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence.
Bruce pleaded guilty to amended charges of second-degree robbery, second-degree assault, tampering with physical evidence and criminal facilitation to murder in June 2013. He was sentenced to 20 years.
In a 2013 interview, Franklin County Commonwealth Attorney Larry Cleveland said Bruce’s involvement in the alleged murder was “very slim.”
Simons, Hammond and Bruce allegedly beat and strangled Monroe.
Monroe was found the next morning, May 6, 2012, after his body was dumped along Interstate 64 eastbound ramp at U.S. 127 in Franklin County.
During Simons’ trial, Cleveland said evidence along Interstate 64 led police to the three men. Evidence included a police baton and a Post-It note with Hammond’s phone number written on it. Cleveland said the number was changed later in the day on May 6, 2012.
Hammond’s trial is expected to be held in May, with Simons and Bruce testifying against him.