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High-profile defendants appear in Calloway Circuit Court

MURRAY – There were 114 criminal cases on the Calloway Circuit Court docket this morning. Among the defendants who appeared before Circuit Judge Andrea Moore today were two Murray natives whose respective cases have drawn headlines – Jack Epperson, who allegedly attempted to launch an improvised explosive into a group of sorority members last year, and Nathan Jackson, who faces complicity to attempted murder charges related to a late-night shooting near a local high school in September.

Epperson was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree attempted assault, second-degree wanton endangerment and possession of a destructive/booby trap device in September 2022 for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at a group of Murray State University students gathered outside near Sorority Row in advance of an event at a fraternity house across the street. The improvised explosive fell short of the crowd and exploded on a curb. 

No one was injured except Epperson; he was treated for burns on his hands according to a press release from the Kentucky State Police, who investigated the case along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Epperson was notably absent for his previous appearance before Moore in August. Epperson’s counsel, Hopkinsville attorney Jason Holland, advised the court that his client was not present that day because he had been indicted on a federal charge of possession of an unregistered firearm and was being held in McCracken County Jail. 

At the August hearing, Holland requested that the $50,000 cash bond posted by Brian Epperson last October be released. In support of his request, Holland advised the defendant had abided by all of the bond conditions to date. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney James Burkeen told the court that, while he did not dispute Epperson had abided by his bond conditions, he could not agree to releasing the bond. 

At the time, Moore advised that she wanted to know more about the charges filed against the defendant in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky before she could rule on Holland’s request.

During the status hearing this morning, Holland renewed his motion for bond release previously made in August, stating that, in the year since his release, Epperson has not only abided by the conditions of his bond but has cooperated with pretrial officers regarding his Calloway Circuit Court case as well as the federal case against him.

Again, Burkeen advised the court that he did not disagree that Epperson has been cooperative and abided by the bond conditions, but he could not agree to refunding the full bond amount. He did say, however, that he would be amenable to reducing the bond amount and providing a partial refund. Moore advised the parties that she would look at the circumstances of the case and enter an order regarding any refund. As of the close of business Monday, no order had been entered.

Epperson’s next appearance in Calloway Circuit Court is scheduled for Feb. 5 at 8:30 a.m. In the meantime, Epperson’s federal case is set for a telephonic status conference on Dec. 15 at 11:30 a.m.

Jackson appeared for his circuit court arraignment following his indictment by the Calloway County grand jury on Sept. 29 on three charges of complicity to attempted murder.

Jackson was arrested on Aug. 6 in connection with a non-fatal shooting that occurred in the early-morning hours near Murray High School. Following a physical altercation at the Doran Arboretum with three teenagers from Kuttawa who came to Murray with a friend, Jackson allegedly returned to his home on Sunset Drive and told his brother Deon Howard what had happened, according to the testimony of Murray Police Department Detective Justin Swope at Jackson’s preliminary hearing, as reported in the Murray Ledger & Times. 

Howard and Jackson, each armed with a gun, returned to the arboretum to find items Jackson believed he lost in the altercation, Swope testified. Jackson initiated a verbal altercation with the teenagers, who had crossed Sycamore Street and were walking along the driveway on the east side of the high school. Jackson and Howard began walking toward the high school, and eventually, a shootout ensued between one of the teenagers who had stolen his father’s handgun and Howard, which resulted in one of the teenagers being shot in the back of the leg. 

According to the indictment, Jackson was complicit to attempted murder when he “aided, counseled or attempted to aid Deon Howard, acting with the kind of culpability otherwise required for the commission of murder, to intentionally engage in conduct which would constitute the crime of murder if the attendant circumstances were as he believed them to be by shooting” at the teenagers.

In court today, Murray attorney Mitch Ryan entered his appearance in the case as counsel for Jackson. Ryan waived formal arraignment and requested the court enter a standard discovery order. A status hearing in the case was set for Monday, Jan. 22, at 8:30 a.m.

The grand jury also indicted Howard on Sept. 29. He was charged with three counts of attempted murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and tampering with physical evidence. Howard is still at large. 

Booking photo of Deon Howard from the Calloway County Jail

Anyone with information regarding Howard’s whereabouts is encouraged to contact the Murray Police Department at 270-753-1621 or leave an anonymous tip by calling Murray-Calloway County Crime Stoppers at 270-753-9500.

Individuals charged with crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

Sentinel Staff

Jessica Paine
I’m Jessica Paine, founder of The Murray Sentinel. You may know me from my time as a citizen journalist, running the Calloway Covid-19 Count page on Facebook, or you may be familiar with my more recent work for another local news outlet. Being that I’m “from here,” you may have known me since I was “knee-high to a grasshopper,” although you knew me as Jessica Jones. But whether you know me or not, I’m glad you found your way here.

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