1/19 Weekly Media Release

From the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney. Please see our Media Releases page at louisvilleprosecutor.com/media-releases for more details and archives.

PDF download of this document

Seal of Kentucky

Weekly Media Release: January 22, 2018 – January 26, 2018

Attention: Assignment Editor
Director of Communications:  Jeff Cooke
Office:                 (502) 595-2340 Ext. 3027
Cell / Text:        (502) 262-5809
E-mail:               jcooke@louisvilleprosecutor.com

NOTE: These represent only a few of the many cases which the Office of Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney is handling. If you have any comments, or need further information concerning these or any other matters please do not hesitate to call. An indictment is only an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until or unless found guilty. The enclosed court actions are subject to change.

According to the Rules of Criminal Procedure (RCr 3.02, 3.05, and 8.01), the arraignment of individuals whose case has been submitted directly to the grand jury shall take place within a reasonable time after the return of an indictment. If you are interested in a case that has been submitted directly to the grand jury, then please contact the court division in which it has been assigned to obtain the time and date of the arraignment.


Brandon Kraatz – 16CR2809   (Murder)

  • Mr. Kraatz (DOB 10/03/96) was charged with the October 10, 2016 murder of David House at Deal Master Food Mart, located at 6115 Blevins Gap Road. The defendant was arrested three days later and admitted to shooting Mr. House.  The incident was captured on surveillance video. A jury trial began on January 9, 2018 in Division 10 of Jefferson Circuit Court, the jury convicted the defendant of Murder and recommended a sentence of 25 years. Emily Lantz and Milja Zgonjanin are the prosecutors.

Ronald L. Bullitt – 15CR3385 (Rape in the First Degree, Persistent Felony Offender in the First Degree.)

  • Mr. Bullitt (DOB 11/12/90) was charged with a rape which occurred on December 17, 2015, in a garage near Florence and Third Streets. The victim was forced into a garage at gunpoint, strangled, held-down, and assaulted.  A jury trial began on Tuesday, January 9th 2018, in Division 13 of Jefferson Circuit Court. The jury convicted the defendant of Rape in the First Degree and found him to be a Persistent Felony Offender in the First Degree.  The jury recommended a sentence of 20 years. Critt Cunningham and Amanda Hernandez are the prosecutors.

Michael Torrence – 16CR1550 (Assault in the First Degree, Wanton Endangerment in the First Degree, Possession of a Handgun by a Convicted Felon)

  • Mr. Torrence (DOB 01/22/89) was charged with shooting a victim near South 26th Street and Greenwood Avenue on May 17, 2016. A jury trial began on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 in Division 7 of Jefferson Circuit Court. On January 19, the jury convicted the defendant of the above charges. The jury will assess penalty on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 9:00 a.m.

BJ Starlight- 16CR0035 (Escape in the Second Degree, Persistent Felony Offender in the First Degree)

  • Mr. Starlight (DOB 02/28/51) was found guilty of escaping custody on January 19, 2016, when he failed to return to CCC from a release and was located 8 days later in Madison County, Kentucky. Mr. Starlight has a lengthy criminal history including shooting a Kentucky State Police Officer in 1977 and leading police on a four county police chase in 2012.  A Trial began on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 in Division 12 of Jefferson Circuit Court with a jury returning a guilty verdict and 15 year sentence on Thursday, January 18, 2018.  Jennifer Murzyn Yancey is the prosecutor.


Brice Jamar Rhodes – 16CR1891 (Murder [Three Counts], Tampering with Physical Evidence, Abuse of a Corpse [Two Counts], Receiving Stolen Property)

  • Mr. Rhodes (DOB 09/8/90) is charged with the May 4, 2016, murder of Christopher Jones on the 800 block of 41st Street, and the May 22, 2016, murder of two children, sixteen-year-old Maurice Gordon and fourteen-year-old Larry Ordway, at 763 N. Hite Avenue.  He is also charged with attempting to dispose of evidence related to this case and of attempting to burn the bodies of the victims, which were discovered in the rear of 4028 River Park Drive.  In addition to these charges, Mr. Rhodes is also indicted in case number 16CR3045 on charges of Intimidating a Participant in the Legal Process and Terroristic Threatening in the Third Degree.  A pretrial conference is scheduled for Friday, January 26, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. in Division 4 of Jefferson Circuit Court.  Elizabeth Jones Brown is the prosecutor.


Shane VanWilliams – 16CR2519 (Murder, Robbery in the First Degree)

  • Mr. VanWilliams (DOB 09/12/91) is charged with the August 21, 2016 murder of Joseph Key at 1828 Appleton Lane in Shively. A jury trial is ongoing in Division 10 of Jefferson Circuit Court. Josh Porter and Scott Drabenstadt are the prosecutors.