Deadly wreck brings murder charges

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Police: Driver seen attempting to hide beer cans

By Sarah Bennett

An Elizabethtown couple is dead and a Hodgenville man charged with murder following a Sunday night wreck in which police believe alcohol played a factor.

Johnie M. Dennis, 75, and Luevenia Dennis, 71, were dead at the scene Sunday at the intersection of Lincoln Parkway and Roundtop Road near Elizabethtown, said Kenneth Spangenberger, Hardin County chief deputy coroner.

In connection with the fatal wreck, Earl D. Richardson, 46, is charged with two counts of murder, first-degree wanton endangerment, tampering with physical evidence, driving under the influence — aggravated, possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in a vehicle, no insurance and no operator’s license.

At 6:28 p.m. Sunday, Richardson was southbound on Lincoln Parkway in a 1997 Chevrolet Blazer, according to a news release from Kentucky State Police Post 4. His son, Earl Richardson Jr., 10, was in the passenger seat.

Johnie Dennis was driving a 2004 Nissan Sentra westbound on Roundtop Road and was attempting to cross Lincoln Parkway when he pulled into the path of Richardson’s Blazer, police said.

The Blazer struck the passenger side of the Nissan and forced both vehicles off the road, according to KSP. All parties were wearing seat belts, police said.

According to Spangenberger, autopsies were to be performed Monday on the Dennises. The preliminary cause of death for both is listed as multiple blunt force trauma, he said.

Richardson and his son sustained minor injuries, according to the release. They were transported to Hardin Memorial Hospital and later released.

When troopers arrived, they detected the smell of alcohol on the elder Richardson, according to a citation. Beer cans also were found at the scene, and police said Richardson was seen tossing cans into the tree line “attempting to conceal or destroy them.”

He allegedly admitted to drinking alcohol “throughout the day,” police said.

In the citation, police stated Richardson “wantonly caused the deaths of Johnie and Luevenia Dennis” and “put the life of his son in danger” by driving under the influence of alcohol and thus showing “extreme indifference to human life.”

At the time of the collision, Richardson also did not possess a valid driver’s license and the Chevrolet Blazer was not insured, according to KSP.

Richardson is lodged at Hardin County Detention Center in lieu of a $500,000 cash bond. His next court date is Aug. 26 in Hardin District Court.

Trooper Brad Riley is leading an investigation. KSP was assisted at the scene by Hardin County EMS and Central Hardin Fire Department.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at 270-505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.