Murder charged in Pike stabbing

Kentucky State Police investigate the murder of Charles Ratliff at Millard Tuesday evening. Michael Yates was taken into custody on a murder charge in the case.

A Pike County man is facing a murder charge after a stabbing Tuesday afternoon.

According to a statement from Kentucky State Police, Michael Yates, of Regina, was arrested and lodged in the Pike County Detention Center on Tuesday on a murder charge in relation to the death of 74-year-old Charles Albert Ratliff, of Elkhorn City. According to the statement, Ratliff was stabbed at Cox Farm Road off Regina-Belcher Highway.

Few details were available regarding the stabbing at presstime Wednesday. Kentucky State Police spokesperson Trooper William Petry told the News-Express that the preliminary investigation into the stabbing indicated that Yates, 41, and Ratliff had been in a physical altercation when the stabbing occurred. The KSP statement regarding the incident said KSP Post 9 in Pikeville received a 911 call about the stabbing just after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. Ratliff was pronounced dead by the Pike County Coroner’s Office later in the afternoon.

Petry said there was no immediate indication that drugs or alcohol were factors, but investigators have not ruled them out as potential factors. Petry said the investigation into the stabbing is ongoing.

Yates was arraigned in Pike District Court Wednesday morning, where he entered a not guilty plea and was ordered held without bond, pending a bond hearing, if such a hearing is requested by his attorney. Pike District Judge Tommy May indicated during the hearing that Yates is accused of murdering Ratliff by stabbing him in the torso.

A public defender assigned to Yates acknowledged during Wednesday’s arraignment that Yates is a “moderate risk,” though she did not specify as to what risk she was referring.

Assistant Pike County Attorney Tommy Chamberlin told the News-Express that Yates being held without bond is standard procedure in a capital case.

“By law, the court is required to enter a not-guilty plea in a felony case,” Chamberlin said. “In a capital case, a suspect is held without bond until a written motion for bond hearing is filed by the suspect’s attorney.”

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for March 21 at 1 p.m. Prosecutors are expected to present evidence at that hearing to determine if the case should be considered by a Pike grand jury.

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