Lexington Man Seeks to Withdraw Guilty Plea in Fentanyl Overdose Death Case

Lexington, Ky. – Keon Lamont Lee, a 31-year-old man from Fayette County, is seeking to withdraw his guilty plea in a case involving the distribution of fentanyl that resulted in an overdose death. Lee had previously pleaded guilty to the charges in January of this year, but now claims that he did not fully understand the consequences of his plea, particularly the waiver of his right to appeal both his guilt and sentence to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The case against Lee dates back to February 2021 when he allegedly provided fentanyl to an individual who subsequently overdosed and died. According to court documents, Lee had allegedly acquired two bags of controlled substances from his dealer, one containing cocaine and the other fentanyl. While intending to distribute cocaine, Lee mistakenly provided the victim with fentanyl, leading to the fatal overdose. Text messages exchanged between Lee and the victim, as well as a confession given to law enforcement, reportedly confirm these events.

Following his indictment in March 2022, Lee pleaded guilty to the charge of distributing fentanyl resulting in an overdose death. The sentencing, initially scheduled for April 28, carries a potential prison term of 20 years to life. However, the final sentence will be determined based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and relevant federal statutes.

In a motion filed by Lee’s defense attorney, John Kevin West, on Friday, Lee requests the court’s permission to withdraw his guilty plea under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(d)(2)(b). The motion argues that Lee was unaware of the consequences of his plea and did not fully comprehend that he was waiving his right to appeal his guilt to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The defense also outlines several factors for the court to consider in evaluating Lee’s request, including the time elapsed since the plea, the absence of a valid reason for not withdrawing earlier, Lee’s assertion of innocence, the circumstances surrounding the plea, Lee’s background and experience with the criminal justice system, and the potential prejudice to the government if the motion is granted.

Lee’s former counsel withdrew from the case on March 30, 2023, after being informed of Lee’s desire to withdraw his guilty plea, according to the motion. The defense argues that Lee’s decision to change his plea came after discussions related to his Presentence Investigation Report, where he reportedly realized the implications of his plea.

If the court grants Lee’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea, the case is likely to proceed to trial, with the possibility of introducing evidence that could have been presented during the initial trial in January 2023.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Lexington Police Department conducted the investigation into the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Kiebler and Todd Bradbury are representing the United States.

The court will now consider Lee’s motion and evaluate the factors outlined before making a decision on whether to allow the withdrawal of the guilty plea.