Judge: Lexington mom acted in self-defense in fatal stabbing

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Jennifer Kashuba, 35, was previously accused of murder but was indicted on a charge of manslaughter.

Jennifer Kashuba, 35, was previously accused of murder but was indicted on a charge of manslaughter.

A Fayette County judge on Monday dismissed a manslaughter charge against a mother accused of fatally stabbing a man who attacked her in front of her kids, saying there was “no evidence to suggest she acted in anything other than self-defense.”

Jennifer Kashuba, 36, was indicted for charges of second-degree manslaughter, abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence in the death of James “Jimmy” Medlock. Kashuba stabbed Medlock, hid his body in the closet for months, and later dumped him near a dumpster, according to court testimony and previous police statements.

Fayette Circuit Judge Julie Goodman said there was no question Kashuba killed Medlock and hid his body, but added there was not a “scintilla of evidence” to suggest that Medlock was not the original aggressor.

“There was absolutely no evidence that he was the victim of aggression,” she said Tuesday morning.

Kashuba was originally charged with murder, but that charge was reduced following a grand jury’s ruling. According to testimony, Medlock was transient and would stay on Kashuba’s couch. The day of the stabbing, Medlock came home and began assaulting Kashuba in front of her three young children, according to court testimony.

One of the children distracted Medlock long enough for Kashuba to run and grab a kitchen knife, which she used to stab Medlock — who died from one single stab wound to the chest, according to Lexington police Detective Jeremy Adkins.

Without a phone and unable to go to a neighbor’s home at the height of the pandemic, Kashuba began to panic and hid Medlock’s body in her home closet so her kids would not see, according to court testimony. Medlock’s body was found months later wrapped in plastic and severely decomposed.

Kashuba admitted to causing the death, and testified to a grand jury about the fight. A child in the home also testified after witnessing the fight. Testimony in Tuesday’s hearing revealed Medlock had an extensive history of domestic violence.

Marcel Bush Radomile, Kashuba’s attorney, said her client’s focus was protecting her children. She said the case was a “perfect self-defense case.”

“This is as good of a self-defense case as you can get except that she could not get to the police fast enough,” Radomile said. Kashuba could be heard sobbing after the charge was dismissed, which Radomile said is because she has hope of returning to her children.

After Kashuba’s attorney requested the charge be dismissed, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney James Judge filed court documents which featured a nearly identical recollection of events to Kashuba’s statements. Goodman questioned if there was ever probable cause for Kashuba to be charged with murder.

Judge pointed to Kashuba’s actions after the fact to suggest she acted wantonly, and not in self defense.

“They were technically not in a domestic relationship, but this has the same factors that go into a routine domestic violence case,” Judge told media after the hearing. “In a situation like this, you have the side of the defendant and the side of a corpse left to rot for six months. Police did a wonderful job of finding a suspect and it was determined this was self-defense.”

Radomile praised prosecutors and Lexington police Detective Jeremy Adkins for their work on the case. She said they conducted an “appropriate investigation.”

Kashuba still faces charges of tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse — both Class D felonies. She faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for both charges. Both Radomile and Judge said they feel the case can be resolved quickly.

Kashuba was still being held in the Fayette County Detention Center Tuesday and is scheduled to make her next court appearance Sept. 7.

Taylor Six is the criminal justice reporter at the Herald-Leader. She was born and raised in Lexington attending Lafayette High School. She graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 2018 with a degree in journalism. She previously worked as the government reporter for the Richmond Register.

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