Judge declines to dismiss charge against driver in officer's death

Defense had wanted indictment dismissed

jkegley@herald-leader.comNovember 13, 2010 

A Fayette Circuit Court judge on Friday refused to dismiss the indictment of a man accused of killing a Lexington police officer, rejecting a motion that a detective gave false testimony before the grand jury.

The ruling was in response to a motion filed last week by attorneys for Glenn Doneghy, 33. He is charged with murder in the death of Officer Bryan Durman in April.

Doneghy's sport-utility vehicle struck Durman while he was investigating a parked vehicle playing music too loudly, police have said. Doneghy was indicted on murder and several other charges in June.

The motion by Doneghy's attorneys accused the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office of prosecutorial misconduct, saying prosecutors knew that testimony by Lexington police Detective David Richardson was misleading.

At issue were these sentences Richardson spoke in front of the grand jury and at a preliminary hearing: "A witness advised the only vehicle driving on the roadway at the time was the suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle deviated from its current course of travel and struck Officer Durman as he stood next to the vehicle he was investigating."

Doneghy's attorney, Kate Dunn, argued the statement made it seem as if a witness had seen Doneghy's vehicle veer off course and hit the officer. However, the witness the detective was referring to, Ronnie Hood, testified Friday that he did not see the collision. He only heard it.

"The bushes in my yard were blocking my view," Hood said.

The detective argued that his statement that Doneghy's vehicle "deviated from its current course of travel" was not intended to tie in with the witness statement before it. The latter sentence was a "matter of fact" supported by "evidence, common sense and simple math," he said.

During heated and lengthy cross-examination that drew several objections from prosecutors, Dunn questioned whether Richardson paused long enough between the sentences to differentiate the witness' statement from the unattributed statement.

"If you were sitting on a grand jury and you heard an officer testify to what you just heard, would you assume there was a difference?" Dunn said.

Dunn also questioned whether evidence adequately supported the statement that Doneghy's vehicle veered off course.

Richardson said that if the car had not veered, several cars parked behind the car Dur man was investigating would have been struck as well. Scuff marks on the street from Dur man's shoes indicated where he was standing at the time of the collision, and injuries sustained from a tow hook on the front of Doneghy's sports utility vehicle indicated what part of the vehicle hit Durman, Richardson added.

However, Richardson has not been trained by the police department's Accident Reconstruction Unit, nor was he at the scene of the crime when it happened, he said in response to Dunn's questioning.

"So is it a fact, or is it your opinion?" Dunn asked.

Richardson said his statement summarized investigations by multiple departments within the Lexington police force, including Accident Reconstruction.

Judge James Ishmael overruled the motion after hearing more than an hour of testimony and cross examination, saying he found no evidence of intentional abuse of the grand jury.

Ishmael conceded that "a reasonable person" could have thought a witness supported Richardson's second statement.

"But did Detective Richardson say that? No, he didn't say that," he said.

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