Police: 2019 fatal shooting resulted from planned robbery involving 5 people

Published 6:56 am Friday, January 22, 2021

A 2019 shooting that left a Kentucky man dead may have been the result of a planned robbery involving five people.

Three adults, 19-year-old Kendrick R. Bixler of East Court Street, Frankfort, 19-year-old Damaja Antoine-Raquaan Hardy of Simpsonville and 37-year-old Samuel Payne of Hickory Drive, Frankfort, were arrested Jan. 8 by Kentucky State Police. All three had preliminary hearings this week in Franklin District Court.

In court Tuesday, KSP Detective Keith Howard said Payne allegedly drove Bixler, Hardy and two juveniles to the home of 73-year-old Ronald Thornton on Oct. 1, 2019.

Thornton was shot through the back door of his residence, but it does not appear anyone entered the home.

“We believe the victim came out of the doorway and at that point was shot through the door,” Howard said Tuesday.

Thornton called 911 for help after being shot but died before Franklin County sheriff’s deputies reached the scene. KSP was asked to take over the investigation, Howard said.

That investigation led to the juveniles, one of whom said another juvenile asked him and others to go “hit a lick in the county,” slang for committing a robbery, Howard said, adding that investigators recovered social media messages between Bixler and one of the juveniles organizing the robbery.

During Hardy’s hearing Thursday, Howard said one of the juveniles admitted to participating in a prior burglary at Thornton’s residence and organized the others to return for another burglary or robbery.

One of the juveniles said he and Hardy contacted Bixler, who then got a ride from Payne to meet the others and go to Thornton’s residence.

Assistant Franklin County Attorney Chris Broaddus said the juveniles have been charged, but their cases have not been presented to circuit court. As a result, their identities have not been released. Juvenile court records are sealed.

One of the juveniles told Howard there were two trips to Thornton’s residence that night.