MH man gets 18-year prison sentence

A Mountain Home man, 33-year-old William Kennerly, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison on a variety of charges, including exposing a then 10-month-old infant to methamphetamine. Kennerly was sentenced during a session of Baxter County Circuit Court last Thursday.

After being charged in connection with exposing the infant to the illegal drug in January, Kennerly was back in court in June to face charges of allegedly selling methamphetamine to a confidential informant working with law enforcement.

Court files related to Kennerly and those associated with him have grown into a veritable tangle of criminal drug-related charges and guardianship petitions by grandparents, including some dropped after filing. The filings include a new guardianship petition by the now-recognized biological father of the oldest of two Kennerly children.

Kennerly's latest charges stem from a trip he allegedly took to El Dorado in June to bring a fairly substantial amount of methamphetamine back to Mountain Home to sell.

The trip to south Arkansas was apparently arranged by the 14th Judicial District Drug Task Force. Before leaving for the trip, however, Kennerly is alleged to have sold methamphetamine to a person working with law enforcement.

It appears the man making the drug purchase and the person who made the trip to El Dorado with Kennerly were two different individuals.

According to the affidavit, Kennerly and the informant arrived in El Dorado and connected with an unnamed female who was to assist in carrying out the transaction. There is no indication in the affidavit how the woman knew Kennerly and his companion, how she was aware they were traveling to El Dorado or their purpose was to buy drugs to return from El Dorado for resale in Baxter County.

There is rather specific information in the probable cause affidavit related to the time the men spent in an El Dorado hotel room packaging the drug. However, the men were said to have become "nervous" for unnamed reasons and returned to Mountain Home without any methamphetamine.

The affidavit also gives no hint what happened to the drug except to say it did not make it back to Mountain Home, although Kennerly is reported to have told the police he had been to El Dorado previously and did return with a supply of drugs to sell.

The person accompanying Kennerly was equipped with a recording device. The man tossed the expensive piece of equipment out of the vehicle for unknown reasons as the pair made their way back to Mountain Home.

Kennerly's initial legal troubles stemmed from the 10-month-old child being exposed to methamphetamine while reportedly crawling on the floor of a bathroom. It was alleged Kennerly had been crushing some of the drugs in the room, and the child apparently crawled through it.

At the time, two young children lived in a house along Pioneer Trail where Kennerly, his wife and her parents also lived.

Following the execution of a search warrant at the residence, Kennerly was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor. The small child was initially taken to Baxter Regional Medical Center in November last year, where tests determined the infant girl had been exposed to methamphetamine. She was then airlifted to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, where additional testing confirmed the presence of methamphetamine in the infant's body.

The investigation showed Kennerly is alleged to have dropped a small quantity of the methamphetamine on the floor where the infant is believed to have found and ingested some of the drug.

Kennerly is alleged to have told officers he was the only one in the house with the illegal substance.

Since the incident, Kennerly and his wife appear to have gone their separate ways. Katie Ezell-Kennerly has had several run-ins with the law, mainly related to domestic disturbances, some of which have turned violent. At one point, it was noted sheriff's deputies had been called to the parents' home several times to deal with the behavior of Katie Ezell-Kennerly toward other members of her family.

In their original petition for guardianship, which was dismissed July 11th, the grandparents alleged Kennerly was, most likely, not the father of one of the two children. In an order of emergency custody filed July 24th, the claim appears to be verified. A DNA test shows a man in El Dorado is the biological father of the older of the two girls, with Katie Ezell-Kennerly listed as the biological mother of both children.

Kennerly's charges in all three cases filed against him include administering a controlled substance to the 10-month-old baby, endangering the welfare of a minor, and various drug-related charges, most of which are connected with the trip to El Dorado.

The state has also sought the forfeiture of a 2003 pickup truck allegedly used in drug-related activity.

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