The final chapter in the trial of Benjamin Ross and Matthew Taylor Putty came to an end on Wednesday in the Woodford County courthouse when the Ross sentence imposed by the jury trial was upheld and Putty was convicted of two felonies.
The men were in court on charges related to the hit-and-run death of Donald Savage in 2017.
Judge Brian Privett listened as Ross’ attorney Noel Caldwell pleaded for probation and time served for Ross, who was 17 years old at the time of the crime. Eric Finke, assistant prosecuting attorney for the commonwealth, then argued for jury recommendation of the maximum sentence of five years for leaving the scene of an accident/failure to render aid. Ultimately the judge did uphold the jury’s decision.
“Whenever there is a death involved in any case, there is the expectation that punishment be administered.“ said Privett. “To probate this case would unduly dispassionate the crime.”
Last month, Ross was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for leaving the scene of an accident/failure to render aid. Ross was driving the vehicle that killed Savage. Under Kentucky law KRS 180.580, a driver must stop and ascertain the extent of the injury or damage, render reasonable assistance and remain on site until the police arrive. A hit-and-run occurs when a person involved with a collision does not identify themselves and leaves the scene. A hit-and- run that results in a death becomes a Class D felony with a maximum sentence of five years. Tampering with evidence is also a Class D felony and carries a maximum sentence of five years as well.
Putty pleaded guilty to both felony charges in December of 2018. He was a passenger in the truck when Ross struck Savage. He later tampered with evidence by removing identifying markings on the truck. Putty’s defense team argued that because Putty was forth coming with information and gave a truthful account of the night in question that he receive less than the maximum sentence.
Judge Privett said he considered the mitigating factors of Putty’s age at the time of the crime, his willingness to cooperate with law enforcement officials and his truthful testimony at the Ross trial. However, the judge stated Putty was perhaps even more at fault than Ross.
“The problem is that Mr. Putty has more criminal culpability, said Privett. “He drove all over the county trying to out run his pursuers and he tampered with the evidence.”
Putty family members gasped when Judge Privett read the sentence. Putty was convicted of both felony charge crimes and sentenced to 5 years for each felony. He will serve the terms concurrently.
“We are very pleased with the outcome,” said Finke.