Report: Lexington shooting victim refused to get out of suspect's car

Lexington police said victim had asked for a ride, then refused to get out

jkegley@herald-leader.comApril 19, 2011 

The victim of a fatal weekend shooting was killed after he got a ride from his accused killer and then refused to get out of the car, according to a police report.

Mike D. Rieder was charged with murder Sunday in the death of James R. Muzic, 29. The two apparently met at the Office Lounge bar on Eastland Parkway near New Circle Road on Saturday night.

According to the police report, filed in Fayette District Court, Muzic asked Rieder for a ride home about 1 a.m. Sunday. Rieder drove Muzic to the corner of Eastland and New Circle, which is only several feet from the bar's parking lot, the report said. The car stopped near the Shell gas station at the intersection after the two began arguing, investigators have said.

According to the police report, Rieder asked Muzic to get out of the car. Muzic refused, and Rieder "pulled (Muzic) from the car." Rieder then "retrieved the gun he was carrying and pointed it at" Muzic, according to the report.

"The gun discharged, killing (the) victim," the report said. The shooting happened at 1:08 a.m.

Both men were outside the car when the shooting occurred, Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.

Rieder drove off, but he later called police and turned himself in. He was arrested at 1:45 a.m. Sunday at his home, the report said.

It was unclear whether Rieder has claimed that the shooting was self-defense. He declined to give an interview from the Fayette County jail, where he is being held without bond. A man who answered the door at Rieder's home declined to comment except to say the family was "confused" about what had happened.

When asked whether Rieder claimed self-defense, Roberts said that it was against the department's policy to discuss motives.

"We can't give specifics about what happened between the two," she said, and homicide detectives "determined that the murder charge was appropriate."

In Kentucky, automobiles are included under the "castle doctrine," a statute that allows people to defend themselves with deadly force from intruders or assault.

Russell Baldani, a defense attorney who handled Lexington's first castle doctrine case after the law was created in 2006, said he didn't think the castle doctrine would apply if a victim had permission to get into a car.

"It seems to me that the statute requires an unlawful or forcible entry," he said. Baldani is not involved in the case.

Judge T. Bruce Bell appointed the Department of Public Advocacy to represent Rieder at an arraignment Monday. Rieder told the judge he could not afford an attorney.

Bell entered a not-guilty plea on Rieder's behalf. Rieder is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing April 25.

On Monday, a wreath and flowers had been placed near the street not far from where Muzic was shot. A photograph showed a smiling Muzic posing with three children. Muzic has a 11/2-year-old son, according to a petition for divorce filed last month Fayette Circuit Court.

A woman who answered a phone number listed in court documents for Muzic said the family was preparing for his funeral and did not wish to speak to reporters.

Rieder, a father of two young boys and a girl, had never been charged with a crime in Lexington before the shooting.

In 2006, Rieder's wife, Mary Alice Rieder, filed a domestic-violence petition after Rieder bruised the legs of one of his sons while "playing too rough" with the boy in the back yard. The domestic-violence order was later dismissed.

Rieder is a truck driver for the University of Kentucky's Physical Plant Division. He was hired as a temporary employee in November 2006 and was promoted to full-time in March 2007. He was named best employee of the quarter in his division for the first quarter of 2011, according to UK spokeswoman Gail Hairston.

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