November 22, 2017
Michael Poe was sentenced Friday, November 17 to seven years in prison for Manslaughter Second Degree and Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol with an Aggravating Circumstance.
On April 3, 2016, after consuming a quantity of beer, Poe took a friend’s 2015 Ford Mustang for a joyride on Athens-Boonesboro Road in Lexington. Poe overshot a turn at a high rate of speed, sending the car flying off the road, causing it to roll over, and killing his passenger, Nick Rucker. Police investigation revealed that Poe had a .170 blood-alcohol level. Poe admitted to drinking a pitcher of beer prior to getting behind the wheel.
Rucker was a National Guard soldier and a student at Eastern Kentucky University who had been one semester away from graduating. The university later awarded Rucker a posthumous degree. During the pendency of the case against Poe, Rucker’s adoptive mothers, Diane Clift and Libby Charlton, worked to secure the March 2017 passage of House Bill 222, which removed the possibility of shock probation in future DUI homicide cases.
Poe entered a guilty plea on September 22, 2017. At his sentencing hearing on Friday, November 17, Clift spoke passionately about the impact that Rucker’s death had on their family and the community at large, and asked that Poe be remanded to custody. Judge Thomas Travis refused probation for Poe and remanded him to custody to begin service of his sentence.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Barnett and investigated by Det. Tyler Smith, LMPD.