Teens plead not guilty to murder

-A A +A

Trial set for Oct. 10

By Gayle Deaton

Three Louisville teenagers indicted on charges of complicity to murder and tampering with physical evidence pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning in Hardin Circuit Court.

Ryan Wilt, Jason Gowers and Connor Galenski are accused of driving Mackenzie Smyser to Patriot Lane near Ky. 313 in November. He was shot once in the face and later was shot three times in the chest to make sure he was dead, authorities say.

Elizabethtown public advocate Sheila Kyle-Reno said all three teens were indicted by a Hardin County grand jury on the same charges and pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning.

Kyle-Reno, who is representing Gowers in the case, said each teen was given a 30-day option to enter a guilty plea or face a trial Oct. 10. The three remain in custody in the Hardin County Detention Center where they have been since November with bond set at $500,000 each.

According to earlier court testimony at a probable cause hearing, Kentucky State Police Detective Jon Vaughn said the three teens enticed Smyser to walk down a dark gravel road under the guise that the group planned to commit a burglary. However, Vaughn said the teens previously conspired to kill Smyser because he failed to deliver a handgun that Wilt had given him $130 to purchase.

Vaughn testified that Gowers and Galenski fired the shots that killed Smyser and said Wilt planned the killing.

Gayle Deaton can be reached at (270) 505-1740.