The state court trial of a Pike County duo facing human trafficking charges was set to be held this week, but was continued in a hearing last week, as state charges against one defendant were dismissed in favor of federal charges and federal authorities continue to investigate the other defendant.
Both Kena M. Reed, 28, of Ky. 1056, Pinsonfork, and Jacob R. West, 32, of Runyon Branch Road, Pinsonfork, were set to be tried on charges including human trafficking beginning Nov. 16.
However, in a hearing in Pike Circuit Court Nov. 12, the charges against Reed were dismissed by Pike Circuit Judge Eddy Coleman at the request of Pike Commonwealth’s Attorney Bill Slone, while West’s case was continued as federal authorities continue to investigate the case.
The duo were originally indicted in 2019 on several charges, including human trafficking, related to a case in which Pike County Sheriff’s Department officials said Reed provided nude and sexual photographs and videos of herself to West in exchange for drugs. It was later determined, investigators said, that a juvenile was involved in the situation.
Reed was indicted in U.S. District Court in Pikeville in August on charges of sex trafficking of a minor, production of visual depictions involving a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct using a means of interstate commerce, distribution of visual depictions involving minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct using a means of interstate commerce and interstate transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct.
An FBI special agent testified during a hearing in federal court that, during the course of the investigation, it was found that, for several months beginning in 2018, Reed was “actively setting up ... meetings with men,” during which she and a minor performed sexual acts in exchange for money and drugs.
Reed, the agent testified, took the minor across state lines on at least seven occasions for the meetings, and took videos of the minor engaged in sexual activity.
Reed, the agent said, was heavily involved in setting up the meetings.
“She facilitated a majority of them,” the agent testified.
During the Nov. 12 hearing in Pike Circuit Court, conducted via Zoom, Slone said they were requesting the state charges be dismissed against Reed in favor of allowing the U.S. Attorney’s Office to continue prosecuting the case.
“The reason we’re doing that is because she’s been indicted in federal court for the same actions that we have her indicted for and we’re not going to prosecute her also in state court,” he said.
The investigation into the case was launched, police have said, when they began investigating the theft of more than 5,500 pills from the pharmacy at the South Williamson Food City store, where West was employed as a pharmacy technician.
In a motion asking for a continuance of the case against West, Slone wrote that federal authorities have informed him that they “continue to review the evidence against Jacob West for possible federal charges.”
West remains free on bond in the state court charges and Reed is lodged in the Pike County Detention Center, where she has been held since her federal indictment in August.