Updated: Sep 15
by Julia Brown Youles
Almost 5 years have passed since Brandenburg resident Christopher B. Stone, 48, was involved in the shooting death of Nicholas Lee Ford, 39, of Vine Grove. On Wednesday, September 14, Stone waived his right to a jury trial and changed his original plea of “not guilty” to “guilty to reckless homicide,” a felony. Standing in front of the Honorable Tim Coleman, a Special Judge brought to the Breckenridge County Courtroom from the 38th Judicial Circuit, Stone and his attorney, David F. Broderick of Bowling Green, agreed that Stone did in fact shoot Ford and, in doing so, acted recklessly.
According to court documents, a person acts recklessly “with respect to a result or to a circumstance when he fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.”
Court files state that Ford and Stone were deer hunting in a wooded area owned by Stone’s family off JE Haynes Road in Irvington on November 24, 2017. At approximately 11:15 a.m., Stone shot Ford in the back with a .243 caliber rifle. Paramedics transported Ford to Breckenridge Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead by the Breckenridge County Coroner. Stone has always maintained that the shooting was accidental.
As a result of Stone’s guilty plea, the Commonwealth Attorney, Blake R. Chambers, recommended Stone be sentenced to five years’ probation.
Stone’s attorney waived a pre-sentence hearing, noting Stone’s lack of any previous legal record and his work history were already known to the court.
Before Judge Coleman pronounced his sentence, Andrew Ford, Nicholas Ford’s brother, addressed Stone on behalf of the family and himself. As he stood in front of the courtroom, facing the solemn defendant and his attorney, Andrew Ford said, “You took Nick from me. I’ll never get over that.” Andrew went on to say that he knew another side of Stone and accused him of hiding behind alcohol addiction. Andrew continued by saying that Stone would have to deal with Nicholas Ford’s death for the rest of his life and Andrew hoped Stone would go to bed every night and think about it. Andrew also said that since his brother’s death, his family was not allowed to see Nick’s two children without supervision, while Stone and his wife were known to them as “Uncle Chris and Aunt Stephanie.” Andrew referred to the guilty plea as a “cop out,” and stated that he’d lost many mutual friends because of Stone. He noted that Stone and his family and friends were unhappy during the jury selection on Monday, in contrast to their attitudes today. “I see everybody smiling because you got out of this.” Andrew ended by saying he felt Stone would violate his probation in the next five years and that he (Andrew) would make sure to inform authorities if he did.
Judge Coleman agreed to the Commonwealth’s recommendation and sentenced Stone to 5 years’ probation with the State Department of Corrections, ordering him to pay several fees associated with his incarceration and court costs. Judge Coleman stressed that Stone must follow all rules and regulations included as part of the probation. This includes not contacting Nicholas Ford’s parents, Rodney and Charlotte Hesler Ford of Brandenburg.
After Judge Coleman dismissed the courtroom, Stone and his wife declined to be photographed and did not make a statement regarding the outcome of the trial.
Nicholas Ford’s relatives provided the Messenger with the following video response to the outcome of the trial. Speaking in the video is Nick Ford’s brother Andrew. Sitting next to Andrew is his wife, Kennetha.