Suspect in Kentucky Mass Shooting Was on Probation for Felony Sex Crime

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A 21-year-old man arrested and charged with killing four people at a birthday party in a Florence, Kentucky over the weekend wasn't legally allowed to possess the gun he allegedly used in the attack, and there are real questions about whether he should have even been out on the street instead of behind bars. 


In June 2021, police arrested then-18-year-old Chase Garvey on charges of rape and sodomy, after he allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl he had met on Snapchat

In June 2021, Garvey was 18 and met up with a 13-year-old he had been speaking with on Snapchat, according to court records. 

Police said the girl told Garvey she was 13 and didn't want to do anything sexual. When she told him to stop, police said, he raped her in the backseat of his vehicle.

According to the records, Garvey admitted to police that he had sex with the girl. But those initial charges were reduced in March 2022 to unlawful transaction with a minor. The charge is still a felony, but a lesser one with a sentence of one to five years in prison. 

Though Garvey was eligible to receive a five-year sentence, prosecutors instead told him that if he pleaded guilty to the reduced charge they'd recommend he be placed on probation, and that's exactly what happened. Even when he violated the terms of his probation Garvey was given a break, serving just a few weeks behind bars for the violation. 

The records show he spent 30 days in jail on a probation violation last year. Police said he was caught doing doughnuts in the parking lot of a Dave & Busters with a 13-year-old boy in the passenger seat.

The probation officer noted serious concerns about Garvey's behavior because "his current case that he is on supervision for also involved a minor in a vehicle in a parking lot."

As the Louisville Courier-Journal reports, it's not uncommon for prosecutors in sex crimes cases for prosecutors to "make efforts to protect juvenile victims from having to testify". In trying to shield the victims from any further trauma, however, prosecutors can also allow serious offenders to escape the consequences of their actions, and that's essentially what happened with Garvey. 


A judge gave him a five-year suspended sentence, but that doesn't explain why that sentence wasn't imposed on Garvey after he violated his probation and was caught once again with a minor in his vehicle. Garvey didn't catch one break from the criminal justice system. He was the recipient of multiple acts of judicial largesse that allowed him to remain a free man when he could have been sent to state prison. Prosecutors might have wanted to spare the victim the pain of testifying, and the judge may have been trying to save Garvey from himself by offering him a chance to turn his life around, but those actions, well-intended as they might have been, still enabled and empowered Garvey  to commit mass murder; killing four people and wounding three others at a birthday party he wasn't invited to attend, and at a time when he could have been stuck behind bars for his earlier crimes. 

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