Man accused of sodomy dies before trial

Five years after indictment, a man accused of sexual abuse has died three days before his May 9 scheduled jury trial.

John E. Sutherland, 74, of Corbin, faced a total of 24 counts of sexual abuse, sodomy and incest.

Most recent, Judge Michael Caperton held a pretrial conference on May 7 in the Knox County Circuit Court, which Sutherland was not present for. The court then learned that Sutherland passed away the day before. As a result, Sutherland’s case was dismissed without prejudice by the Commonwealth, with the trial date cancelled.

Sutherland was first arrested for the above crimes in 2013. Sutherland allegedly victimized four individuals from the year 1980 to 1992. At the time of the incidents, each victim was under the age of 12.

Sutherland’s first four charges occurred between August 1980 and August 1981. The victim was seven years old. The following three counts occurred between March 1980 and March 1983. The victim was six years old. Another 12 counts occurred between May 1985 and May 1989, beginning when the victim was five years old. The final five counts occurred from July 1991 to December 1992. The victim was seven years old.

Since his 2013 arrest, the case went through numerous pretrial conferences and other hearings, trying to determine if Sutherland was competent and could stand trial. As of an October 17, 2017 evaluation by the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center (KCPC), “Defendant, John Sutherland, has the capacity to appreciate the nature and consequences of the proceeding against him and can participate rationally in his defense. The Defendant is competent. Wherefore, the Commonwealth maintains that the Defendant must stand trial,” reads the court document.

These tests and findings came after Sutherland’s court-appointed attorney, Kara Ottis, claimed that since the case began, her client’s health had significantly deteriorated, citing several strokes.