A Stanford man pleaded guilty Monday just before he was to go on trial in Boyle Circuit Court on charges related to a Junction City home invasion in 2010.
Shawn Durham, 25, entered an open guilty plea to two counts of first-degree robbery and burglary for being armed when he and cousin Michael Durham forced their way in to Warren and Mary Bigger’s home on Weatherby Lane in Junction City in May 2010. The Durhams were able to elude capture for several days until they were arrested in Virginia.
“There appeared to be some hesitancy on his part, but he did eventually plead guilty to all three charges before the trial began,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Bottoms said.
An “open guilty plea” means Durham will face sentencing without any recommendation from the prosecutor. Judge Darren Peckler will formally sentence Durham on March 6, choosing from a range between 10 and 60 years in prison. Durham will have to serve at least 85 percent of whatever sentence he receives because of the violent nature of the crimes, Bottoms said.
Michael Durham, 26, also of Stanford, faces the same charges and has a status conference set for next week in his case.
Bottoms said the Durhams forced their way into the Biggers’ home and remained inside for nearly an hour. Warren Bigger “was literally pistol-whipped, struck in the head” during the invasion while his wife was verbally abused but unharmed, Bottoms said. Old coins, cash, jewelry and a laptop were among the items taken in the robbery.
The Durhams were the subject of an extensive manhunt and at one time were suspects in the shooting of a Russell County deputy, but they were later cleared of that incident. They were finally captured in Wise County, Va., where they were charged with additional counts of burglary and theft.
Both Durhams have pleaded guilty to the Virginia charges and are currently serving time in that state, Bottoms said. One of the things Peckler will have to determine in sentencing Shawn Durham is whether his prison sentence in Kentucky will run consecutively or concurrently with the time he is serving in Virginia, the prosecutor said.
The Biggers were at the courthouse Monday morning prepared to testify against Durham at his trial. Also present was a special agent from Virginia State Police who was going to testify about statements Durham made about the Junction City robbery after he was arrested in Virginia, Bottoms said.