Former cop back in jail

Published 1:31 am Saturday, September 29, 2012

Less than a week after he received a suspended sentence in return for a guilty plea to sexual misconduct and the assault of two minor children, Kevin Owens is back in custody.

Owens was arrested Friday on two new charges of harassing communications. As a result, the Office of Prosecution Services has filed a motion asking Judge Ashley McKathan to revoke his probation.

On Monday, Owens, a former Gantt Police Chief and Andalusia police officer, plead guilty in a six-year-old case.

Owens originally was charged with rape, sodomy and sexual abuse based on allegations by two minor victims between 2003 and 2006.

The Office of Prosecution Services handled the case because current district attorney Walt Merrell, who was not DA at the time the charges were filed, had a conflict. Before he became DA, he served as Gantt’s municipal judge.

Barry Matson and Trisha Mellberg, the Assistant Attorneys General who prosecuted the case, said they agreed to a plea deal that allowed Owens to plea to the lesser charges because of the nature of the case.

“As a prosecutor, you have to be ever mindful that you are dealing with child victims and you do not want to re-abuse them in the process,” they said in a prepared statement, adding that they were pleased to resolve the cases to the satisfaction of the victims and their families.

Friday afternoon, Mellberg explained that Owens received one year’s suspended sentence on each of the charges to which he plead, to be followed by two years supervised probation. The terms of that agreement stated that there were certain activities – including criminal ones – that he wouldn’t be involved in.

After charges were filed for two harassing communications, including one to his former victim, the state filed their motion to revoke his probation.

Mellberg said Judge Ashley McKathan will set a new hearing for Owens. He could revoke the probation, or wait on the outcome of the two new charges, both of which were misdemeanors.

Matson confirmed that the messages were texts.