Change of venue sought in police death case

Pretrial publicity favors officer, his lawyers say

jhewlett@herald-leader.comMay 16, 2011 

Glenn Doneghy

Glenn Doneghy, accused of killing Lexington police officer Bryan Durman last year, should be tried in Jefferson County because he can't get a fair trial in Fayette or surrounding counties, his attorneys contend.

The attorneys, Kate Dunn, Gayle Slaughter and Sally Wasielewski, have petitioned Fayette Circuit Court for a change of venue because of what they call "unparalleled pretrial publicity." Most of the publicity in print and on television is positive toward the prosecution's case and negative toward the defendant, they say. Doneghy has been portrayed as a "mentally ill, drug-addicted black man who holds a grudge against police officers," the attorneys say in the petition, written in late April. The records suggest Jefferson County as the most convenient and demographically comparable county for the trial.

The petition is one of several documents filed in the case in recent days. Doneghy is expected to be in court Monday on other issues relating to the case.

Doneghy, 34, is accused of deliberately striking Durman with his vehicle as the officer was investigating a noise complaint on North Limestone on April 29, 2010. Dur man, 27, was pronounced dead at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital a short time later.

Doneghy's trial on murder and several other charges is set to begin June 13 in Fayette Circuit Court.

Doneghy's lawyers filed 27 affidavits in support of the trial being moved; at least two are required. The affidavits are signed by residents of Fayette, Bourbon, Clark, Jessamine, Madison, Scott and Woodford counties.

Media coverage cited in the petition includes that of Durman's funeral, held May 4, 2010, at Southland Christian Church, the area's largest church; the funeral procession through Lexington, which included more than 600 vehicles and the closing of about 100 intersections; successful efforts to name a street after Durman; a blood drive in Dur man's honor, and the inscription of his name on a monument in Phoenix Park honoring officers killed in the line of duty.

The petition noted that coverage on Doneghy has focused on his criminal history and proceedings in Fayette district and circuit courts.

Meanwhile, prosecutors say they plan to introduce evidence at Doneghy's trial showing he previously had violent contact with people he perceived to be police officers. Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Lori Boling cite two incidents, both in 2007, in a document filed in circuit court.

In one incident, Doneghy spat on and kicked the boot of Johnathan Branton, then an employee of the Fayette County Detention Center who was wearing his uniform, during an encounter at a gas station, according to the document. The records state Doneghy used profanity to express his dislike for police.

The second incident occurred after Lexington police received a report of a possibly intoxicated person. When they arrived at the scene, police said they found Doneghy's sport utility vehicle with expired license tags and Doneghy with no proof of insurance. Police began to frisk Doneghy; he began to fight and kick at the three officers and at one point reached for one of the officer's gun, the document says. Doneghy allegedly threatened to harm one of the officers.

Doneghy is scheduled to be in court Monday, but the change of venue and previous police contact issues are not expected to be discussed until later in May.

A competency hearing for Doneghy is scheduled Monday. Attorneys on both sides also are set to argue several motions, including one by the defense to suppress the results of toxicology tests performed on urine and blood samples taken from Doneghy after his arrest in Durman's death. Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael, at a suppression hearing last month, did not rule whether the toxicology results could be used during the trial. Defense attorneys have said the blood and urine samples were taken from Doneghy nearly seven hours after Durman was struck — too long afterward to be pertinent.

Reach Jennifer Hewlett at (859) 231-3308 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3308.

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