Joey Cambron
Joey Cambron stabbed an adolescent child to death. (Credit: WRDB)

Louisville, Kentucky, US – A 26-year-old man who identifies as a woman has pleaded guilty to the stabbing death of a 12-year-old child, which took place at a municipal park in Kentucky.

Joseph Cambron, who previously stood trial for the first-degree sexual abuse of a 6-year-old girl, entered his guilty plea on June 21, 2019 to manslaughter and tampering with evidence by disposing of the murdering weapon. Prior to handing down his sentence, Circuit Court Judge Charles Cunningham asked whether there was anything the defense wanted to address.

Mr Cambron took that moment to inform the court that he identifies as a transgender woman, and should be addressed as “she” in court documents and legal proceedings.

“It’s the right way to identify her,” insisted Amy Hannah, one of the attorneys representing Mr Cambron. “We’re just asking the court to change the language included in this PSI [Pre-Sentence Investigation Report] to reflect who Joey is.”

Judge Cunningham conceded to the defense’s request. “I’m using feminine pronouns, because that’s who Joe thinks she is. And I have no reason to question that.”

A judicial conduct commission had publicly reprimanded Judge Cunningham in 2018 after determining that the judge engaged in judicial misconduct in his handling of Joey Cambron’s case. Judge Cunningham’s “deceptive” and “reprehensible” behavior consisted of repeatedly meeting in secret with defense attorneys without prosecutors’ knowledge, the Kentucky Court of Appeals found.

Judge Cunningham sentenced Mr Cambron to 13 years in prison, minus credit for the time served while awaiting trial.

Charles Cunningham
Charles Cunningham was found to have engaged in improper ex parte communications with defense attorneys during Joey Cambron’s case. (Courtesy: Citizens For Better Judges)

On September 30, 2014, young Ray Allen Etheridge was at Mid City Mall with his mother when he wandered off to Cherokee Park. At the time, Mr Cambron resided at a campsite in Cherokee Park, and was smoking a cigarette when the child came by, he told the court.

Mr Cambron, who is 6′ 3, 185-pounds, pulled a knife from his pocket, chased after the adolescent, and stabbed him in the back. “Next thing I remember, the knife is in his chest, my hand is shaking and I pulled it out,” Mr Cambron told police. “He said he was sorry, and I let him go.”

Mr Cambron claimed the adolescent had set the series of events in motion by first punching him in the face and stealing his wallet. He said the child fought him even after falling to the ground after the stabbing.

The unresponsive boy was found by a passerby near Mr Cambron’s campsite, and was later pronounced dead at Kosair Children’s Hospital. An autopsy showed the adolescent died of two stab wounds, one to the chest and another to the back.

Ray Allen Etheridge
12-year-old Ray Allen Etheridge was murdered by Joey Cambron.

Mr Cambron called up police asking to talk, and later confessed his involvement in the crime, including the disposal of the knife. The judge threw out much of the confession after it was revealed that police continued to interview Mr Cambron following his request for an attorney.

Six days after Mr Cambron was charged with the murder of the seventh grader, he attempted suicide by hanging in his jail cell, and had to be placed on 24-hour suicide watch.

Mr Cambron told police during an interview that he has a longterm struggle with anger that “bottles up and bottles up.”

Although Mr Cambron’s has requested to be addressed as a female, it does not take away from the fact that a child was killed, Christie Foster of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said.

Joseph Cambron
Joseph Cambron in booking photo, left, and under police escort to the courtroom, right. (Credit: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, left; WRDB, right)

Read more on this story

Cherokee Park death suspect tries to kill self
Courier Journal
Six days after he was charged with the murder of 12-year-old Ray Etheridge, Joseph Cambron tried to kill himself in jail, officials say.

Cambron sentenced to prison for killing of boy in Cherokee Park
WDRB
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – Joseph Cambron, who admitted to stabbing to death a 12-year-old boy in Cherokee Park in September 2014, was sentenced to 13 years in prison on Friday morning.

Joseph Cambron pleads guilty to manslaughter in stabbing of 12-year-old in Cherokee Park
WDRB
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – Joseph Cambron, who admitted to stabbing to death a 12-year-old in Cherokee Park in September 2014, pleaded guilty on Friday to manslaughter and tampering with evidence.

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