Man to be sentenced in 2016 stabbing

September 4, 2017

A Gray man is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in connection with a 2016 stabbing incident.


Thirty-five-year-old Preston Messer is scheduled to appear before Knox Circuit Court Judge Michael O. Caperton for formal sentencing.

According to the plea agreement, Messer entered a guilty plea to second-degree assault in return for a recommended sentenced of five years in prison.

Under Kentucky law, second-degree assault is a Class C felony carrying a potential sentence of five to ten years in prison.

“The victim wanted the matter resolved without going to trial,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele.

Under Kentucky law, the judge has final say on whether a plea agreement is accepted. The judge will review the agreement and determine whether or not to accept it. If the judge does not accept it, the defendant may either withdraw the guilty plea and the case will be set for trial, or continue with sentencing without an agreement in place.

Messer was arrested on May 28, 2016 and later indicted on one count of first-degree assault, stemming from the incident during which he stabbed Justin Wilburn seven times with what police described as a “large bladed weapon.”

Police were called to the residence on Dr. Parker Lane near the intersection of Old Barbourville Hwy. and South Ky. 233 in response to a complaint of a stabbing.

Wilburn had been stabbed twice in the back and five times in the torso and was transported to the University of Kentucky Medical Center for treatment.

Messer fled the scene. Trooper Frank Russell located Messer the following morning at the campus of Baptist Health Corbin and took him into custody.

According to the arrest citation, Knox County Sheriff’s deputies had been called to the scene earlier that night because of an altercation between Messer and Wilburn.

Witnesses reported that Messer had been using unspecified drugs prior to the assault.

Messer has been held in the Knox County Detention Center since his arrest in lieu of a $100,000 cash bond.

Under Kentucky law, Messer will receive credit for that time toward the sentence he receives.