,Circuit Judge Tyler Gill sentenced Timothy Claytor to the maximum five years Tuesday for shooting and killing Dale Holloway in 2012. Claytor was found guilty of reckless homicide last week, however, the same jury who convicted him could not agree on a sentence of either one to five years, leaving the decision up to the judge.
Claytor was originally charged with murder by the Commonwealth.
Holloway was shot at Claytor’s home around 10 p.m. the night of Aug. 30, 2012, after he came looking for an ex-girlfriend (Laura White) who had also been in a relationship with Claytor and was at his home. The incident was caught on a surveillance camera Claytor had installed at his house.
Claytor claimed self-defense, however, Judge Gill during a lengthy statement before the sentencing, said Holloway’s death was “unnecessary.”
Before Gill ruled Claytor’s attorney Stewart Wheeler asked for probation for his client, saying he would not be a danger to society and that Claytor didn’t want to kill Holloway.
“The public doesn’t need protection from Tim. He has had a job for the past two years. You let him out on bail and he has complied with everything you asked of him,” said Wheeler to Judge Gill. “He will get up everyday and go to work and he won’t be a problem to society. He wishes he could undo what happen, but he can’t.”
Judge Gill gave Commonwealth Attorney Gail Guiling a chance to speak before he sentenced Claytor. Guiling contended that Claytor had anger issues and felt they had escalated over the years.
“We have a life that has been taken away. We ask the court not to probate this sentence,” said Guiling, who further commented after the sentencing saying, “The trial went as I expected giving the current public sentiment on stand your ground laws. The jury in this case followed the law as instructed, but I think Judge Gill spoke volumes today. People need to know what the law says, otherwise they may find themselves heading for a bad outcome.”
Members of the Holloway family were pleased with Judge Gill’s sentencing. Many wished it could be longer, but understood the judge only had the option of five years as maximum with the jury ruling of reckless homicide.
“Maybe this is some type of justice,” said Lori Yell Holloway, Dale’s widow. “It won’t bring back Dale and we will be empty forever.”
Elma Jenkins, Dale’s sister said, “I’m glad he got the max. Wish it could have been more, but we will take it. What the judge said spoke volumes.”
Miranda Corbitt, Dale’s step-daughter said, “I never thought I’d be happy for five years. I feel like we at least got some justice. I hope a lot of people hear what Judge Gill said and learn from it.”
Before Judge Gill rendered a sentence upon Claytor, he opened with a lengthy statement speaking to the community as well as Claytor about self defense, fear, and knowing what the law says. Within Judge Gill’s statement, he had several comments about the night Holloway was shot and killed.
“This case is not about a home invasion or an ‘altercation’ or assault. It is not about ‘standing your ground.’ It is about very bad judgment by a man involved in a love triangle with the victim and their mutual girlfriend. It is about a reckless and deadly combination of several factors. A little lust, a little jealousy, a little self-righteous indignation, a little arrogance, a little pride, a little bravado, a little frustration, a little fear, a little misunderstanding of the law – all infused together with seven to nine beers consumed over 5 to 6 hours. This case is about the unnecessary killing of a human being, Dale Holloway.
“Timothy Claytor is not too different from anyone else. He is not a criminal in the sense most people think of criminals. Looking forward, the risk of his committing another serious crime is low. He would receive little positive benefit from ‘correctional treatment.’ I think he has a conscience that will frequently remind him of his series and poor decisions made in the course of killing Dale Holloway. Some of his statements made in this case indicate that he misunderstood the law: that he believed he had the right to kill just because Dale Holloway was on his property uninvited at night and he had no trespassing signs and because he felt afraid. My comments are not intended to speak negatively of Timothy Claytor as a person; but, I must be very critical of his conduct on Aug. 30, 2012.
“Had Timothy Claytor shot Dale Holloway while Dale Holloway was attempting to forcibly enter the home by breaking the door or forcing it open – or after Dale Holloway had done something to make clear that he intended to attempt to seriously injure or kill Mr. Claytor or Mrs White - there would have been no conviction – no trial - no indictment - no charge of wrong doing. Timothy Claytor would have been treated as a hero and given sympathy for being innocently put in such a bad situation. But his conduct on that night was not heroic. That night, he did not act with courage and good judgment and a man died as a result. His consumption of alcohol was probably a contributing factor in this tragedy.
Mr. Claytor was clearly aware of his right to shoot in self defense, although he had an incomplete understanding of it. His actions showed no caution or concern for Dale Holloway’s right to live. Dale Holloway’s death was unnecessary. Mr. Claytor still may not understand his mistake. He has not directly admitted that Dale Holloway’s death was unnecessary. He was acquitted of murder and two degrees of manslaughter only because he acted – at least in part, out of an irrational fear – a recklessly formed belief that he was about to be attacked and that killing Dale Holloway was necessary. He was found guilty of reckless homicide because he was mistaken about the need to use deadly force as the jury found and he was reckless in not recognizing this mistake.
“Even though Mr. Claytor’s mistaken belief about the necessity to use deadly force was a defense to the more serious charges -I cannot respect or excuse Timothy Claytor’s fear or his actions under the circumstances of this case. His fear was practically baseless. I say this knowing that the evidence suggests Dale Holloway was big and gruff and fully capable of intimidating others if he chose to do so.
“Tim and Dale were not strangers. They had known each other for years. They had played pool together and socialized together. Dale visited in the Claytor home with his children. At least one previous interaction involved Dale coming to Tim’s home when their mutual girlfriend, Laura Ann White was there, and yet, throughout their relationship, there were no instances of serious conflict. There was no injury or threat of injury.
“On the night in question, Tim received a telephone call about two minutes before Dale arrived warning him that Dale was coming to his house and was angry, but with no other details. When Tim looked outside and observed Dale approaching his home, he saw that Dale was not armed. Tim immediately chambered a round from the loaded magazine in his pistol. He was inside his home and Dale was still outside. Tim had three firearms - two within reach and one in his hand. In between him and the approaching victim was a door with a deadbolt.
“Mr. Claytor had no duty to retreat, but if he needed time to think – or time to talk to Dale Holloway or to warn him that he was prepared to shoot – all he had to do was turn the dead bolt. If Mr. Holloway attempted to force the door, Mr. Caytor still had the death option available. If he was afraid, he could have chosen not to open the door. Instead he opened the door himself and shot Dale Holloway to death.
“Mr. Claytor had the advantage of weapons the advantage of position and a thorough knowledge of his supposed adversary. He held all the cards. He had several options which he did not consider. He shot an unarmed man without any meaningful attempt at communication. There simply was no objective reason to be so afraid as to immediately kill this man he had known for years.
“The defendant’s actions make it appear that he decided to shoot Dale Holloway at some point before he opened the door and shot him – perhaps when he first saw him outside his home – perhaps when he received the telephone call foretelling Holloway’s arrival about two minutes before.
“Mr. Claytor says he did not intend for Dale Holloway to die. This is a difficult proposition to accept. He owned and should have been familiar with his firearms and their capacity to kill. A responsible person defending himself with a gun should know that if you shoot someone twice in the head and once in the torso they are likely to die. This is true no matter how small the firearm or how large the person you shoot.
“Probation would unduly depreciate the seriousness of this crime.”
Mr. Claytor will be eligible for parole in seven months. He has the right to appeal the judgment and the jury verdict upon which they are based to the Court of Appeals of Kentucky with the assistance of counsel. An appeal must be taken within 30 days of the entry of this judgment.
You can read the entirety of Judge Gill’s statements on the News-Democrat & Leader’s website at www.newsdemocratleader.com.