Local man arrested on conspiracy charge in connection to death of Crystal Rogers


Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 (updated Friday, Sept. 8, 2023) — A Nelson County man has been charged in connection to the death of Crystal Rogers.

According to WDRB, Joseph Lee Lawson, 32, was named in two sealed indictments for conspiracy to commit murder and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the Rogers case.


Both charges were in sealed indictments handed down in June and July. Lawson was scheduled to be arraigned last month was was in the hospital, media reports say.

On Thursday, Lawson entered a not guilty plea in Nelson Circuit Court. His bond was set at $500,000 cash. His next court appearance in Nelson Circuit Court is Oct. 26, 2023.

He is represented by a court-appointed attorney, Louisville-based criminal defense attorney Kevin Coleman.

Lawson is not charged with Rogers’ murder; he was charged with the lesser offense of conspiracy to commit murder, meaning that investigators believe he was involved in some fashion in the planning or commission of the acts that led to Rogers’ death. The maximum sentence for the conspiracy charge, a Class B felony, is 10 to 20 years in prison.

The tampering with physical evidence indictment alleges that Lawson tampered with physical evidence when he “destroyed, mutilated, concealed, removed or altered physical evidence.” The maximum penalty for the tampering charge, a Class D felony, is one to five years in prison.

The indictments are the first directly connected with Rogers’ death. Neither of the indictments mentions Rogers by name, but each refers to a crime that took place in Nelson County on July 3 and/or July 4, 2015.

The conspiracy indictment alleges that Lawson “agreed to aid one or more persons in the planning or commission of the crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit the crime when he, and/or, a co-conspirator intentionally caused the death of another.”

Crystal Rogers was reported missing by her mother on July 5, 2015. Her boyfriend, Brooks Houck, was the last person to see her alive at the family farm on Pascal Ballard Lane off KY 49 south of Bardstown.

The Rogers family and Coleman, Lawson’s attorney, both acknowledge to the media that the case is related to the disappearance and presumed death of Crystal Rogers.

According to WDRB, Crystal Rogers’ mother, Sherry Ballard, was advised not to comment to the media at this time.

Since Rogers’ disappearance in 2015, Ballard and her family have been vocal about their belief that Brooks Houck, Rogers’ boyfriend at the time and father of her youngest child, was responsible for her disappearance. In October 2015, Houck was named the main suspect in the case by the Nelson County Sheriff.


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