• John McGary, Woodford Sun News Editor

Former Woodford County resident murdered in Frankfort

After a six-hour standoff Friday, July 6, Lexington police arrested the man who allegedly murdered Woodford County native Margaret “Meg” Elizabeth Smith three days before.

Derek Garten is accused of entering the Frankfort home of Smith, whose maiden name was Margaret “Meg” Gentry, and shooting her to death.

A post on Garten’s Facebook page made shortly before he surrendered in a Lexington motel acknowledged guilt and expressed no remorse. “Well here I am. This is the end of road for me today. … I shot meg and would do it again. …”

The post also claimed Smith had abused his son, which Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton, a former Versailles Police Department officer, said is untrue. Melton said Garten and Smith hadn’t seen each other since February, and that she, along with a half dozen of his family members, had emergency protective orders against him.

Garten, 38, was arraigned Monday and pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges. He is being held in the Shelby County Detention Center on $500,000 bond. An alleged accomplice, Billy Joe Turner, 37, of Midway, is charged with complicity to commit murder and tampering with physical evidence, and is being held in the Franklin County Detention Center.

Melton credited teamwork between multiple agencies, including the Kentucky State Police, FBI, Versailles Police Department and Woodford Sheriff’s Department, for finding Garten and taking him into custody without incident.

Melton described Smith as a “great girl” and said his son had played soccer a few years ago with Smith’s son, Chase, 17.

A week before her death, Smith shared a post on her Facebook page that read, “Sometimes it’s just better to let things go, let people go, don’t fight for closure, don’t ask for explanations, don’t chase answers and don’t expect people to understand where you’re coming from.”

Beneath it, she added, “If you love someone, pray for them. Pray for their peace. Pray for their growth. Pray for their success. Pray for their happiness.”

Her obituary is on page 8.

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