Fayette County Commonwealth Advocate Lou Anna Red Corn will retire on September 30, after serving the community for 35 years.
In a letter dated Aug. 2 to Gov. Andy Beshear’s office, Red Corn writes that she is resigning from her position on the 22nd Judicial Circuit where she was the first Native American Commonwealth lawyer in the state and the first female Commonwealth lawyer in the Fayette County.
She was appointed to her current position in 2016 after the retirement of Ray Larson, whom she called a legend.
“I have tried to build on the excellent reputation that Ray has established for this office over his 31 years as a Fayette Commonwealth solicitor. While there have been many challenges over the past six years, it is the work that benefits victims of crime that has the greatest impact,” she wrote in her retirement notice. .
In her letter, she summed up her time as a Commonwealth lawyer, saying that over the past six years her office has created a special victims unit, comprising prosecutors who are passionate and committed to prosecuting victims’ cases. the most vulnerable: children, women and the elderly.
His office also helped pass the Strangling Crimes Bill, signed into law in 2019. In addition, Red Corn said his office enhanced Victims of Crime Week by including all community partners in the planning and execution of the event.
Red Corn, who has resided in Lexington since 1977, previously served as Fayette’s Deputy Commonwealth Attorney and First Assistant since 2006. A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Red Corn is an active member of the Osage Nation.
In 1989, she helped establish the Fayette County Multidisciplinary Child Sexual Abuse Team, which remains a model for other teams in the state. Red Corn was a lead author of the state’s first Model Protocol for Multidisciplinary Child Sexual Abuse Teams and co-authored Kentucky Attorney General’s Child Sexual Abuse Manual in 2006.
Red Corn earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky, followed by a law degree. She joined the Fayette Commonwealth Attorney’s Office in 1987 and focused on cases of child homicide, child sexual abuse and exploitation.
A notable case involved priest Leonard Nienabor. Neinabor was convicted in 1994 of 10 counts of child abuse. The abuse occurred between 1964 and 1977 and involved children between the ages of 4 and 17. Nienabor was 87 at the time of his conviction. He was allowed to serve his sentence in a Roman Catholic treatment center.
During his career, Red Corn has tried hundreds of criminal cases, including more than 55 homicide trials, according to his website.
One of his most recent murder convictions was that of Robert Markham Taylor, who was sentenced to 49 years in prison in the brutal attack on University of Kentucky head Alex Johnson, whose murder made front page national newspapers. Johnson, 32, was beaten to death and his body was stuffed into a barrel and thrown into the Kentucky River, where he was found in January 2014.
She also successfully prosecuted Paris Charles, a handyman, who killed and dismembered Goldia Massey, his girlfriend, in 2014. Charles was sentenced to 35 years in the case.
Retired Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone said that under Red Corn, the office was more flexible, which helped speed up felony cases, including supporting criminal mediation, which leaves prosecutors and defense attorneys time to make any plea deals.
“She has allowed this office to evolve and be more innovative,” Scorsone said. When criminal cases languish, it’s difficult for victims, victims’ families, the accused and witnesses, Scorsone said.
No one questioned Red Corn’s ethics and commitment to work, he said.
“She also has a very good courtroom presence and was a good lawyer,” Scorsone added.
Red Corn has received several awards during its three decades in public service.
In 2020, she received the Commonwealth’s Attorney of the Year award and is the former President of the Commonwealth Attorney’s Association. In 2018, the Kentucky Association of Children’s Advocacy Centers recognized her as one of its Legendary Partners, awarding her the “Hero’s Blue Cape” for her work on behalf of children and with the Children’s Advocacy Center, which conducts medical interviews. -legal with children who have been abused. and neglected.
“A prosecutor’s job is tough,” she wrote in her retirement notice. “Our cases involve pain, grief and violence. Our satisfaction stems from the role we play in the criminal justice system — helping victims, holding offenders accountable and making our communities safe places to live. It’s a great career. »
Who will serve next?
Red Corn asked the governor to appoint Kimberly Henderson Baird, the first assistant of the 22nd Judicial Circuit, to fill her vacancy.
“(Baird) is an accomplished and respected leader in office, in the justice system and in our community,” she said. “It goes without saying that the appointment (Baird) would be historic – she would be the first African-American woman to serve as a Commonwealth prosecutor in Kentucky. IT’S TIME!”
Baird has worked in the office since 1996 and has been first assistant since 2016, when Red Corn became a Commonwealth solicitor. Baird is a Lexington native and a graduate of Lafayette High School and the University of Kentucky.
First appointed in 2016, Red Corn was elected to a six-year term in 2018. The person appointed to fill the position will serve the remaining years of their term.
This means there will be two new faces at the helm of the Commonwealth Prosecutor’s and County Prosecutor’s Offices in the coming months.
Red Corn’s announcement comes several months after longtime Fayette County prosecutor Larry Roberts was defeated in the May Democratic primary by Angela Evans, a former Lexington-Fayette urban county councilor who also served as public defender and assistant attorney general. Evans will be sworn in as county prosecutor in January.
This story was originally published September 2, 2022 9:58 a.m.