Woman testifies she lied about driving vehicle that killed officer

Man tells jury ex-prostitute slept on night officer was hit

jkegley@herald-leader.comJune 23, 2011 

  • Prosecution points

    Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson and Assistant Lori Boling called several witnesses who put in doubt defense claims that Doneghy might not have been driving the vehicle that hit Durman. Neighbors and acquaintances of Doneghy testified that they saw Doneghy alone in his car shortly before and shortly after the crash. A woman named Melanie White, whose DNA was found on Doneghy's steering wheel, testified she had driven Doneghy's car two days before the crash but was not driving when it hit Durman.

    Defense points

    Defense attorney Kate Dunn questioned witnesses about where they were standing or sitting when they saw Doneghy leave and return to the apartment complex, prodding several witnesses to admit they couldn't be sure Doneghy was alone in the car or that the Doneghy's car wasn't damaged before the wreck. She questioned Detective David Richardson's decision to release White as a suspect based on inconsistent witness statements.

    Herald-Leader Staff Report

  • Wrapping it up

    Before court broke for lunch Wednesday, Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael told jurors that it would be "practically impossible" to finish the trial by Thursday given the number of witnesses who had yet to take the stand.

    All 13 jurors, including one man who had scheduled a family vacation next week, said they would stay and see the trial through.

    Ishmael said it would probably be Tuesday or Wednesday of next week before the case is submitted to the jury.

    Herald-Leader Staff Report

A former prostitute who identified murder defendant Glenn Doneghy as one of her "tricks" explained to jurors why she told multiple people she was driving the sport-utility vehicle that hit and killed officer Bryan Durman last year.

Melanie White, who goes by the nickname "Juicy," summed things up in simple terms: "I have a tendency to say things for attention when I get drunk."

"Sometimes it's based on some truth; sometimes there's no truth to it at all," she said.

"Is what you've testified here today the truth?" Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson asked.

"Yes it is," she said.

Doneghy, 34, is standing trial for murder in the death of Durman, 27, who was hit on North Limestone by a hit-and-run driver while investigating a noise complaint. The crash happened about 10 p.m. April 29, 2010.

Police first learned of White's apparent admission last November. Investigators questioned her and swabbed her mouth for a DNA sample to match it against DNA on Doneghy's steering wheel, Detective David Richardson testified Wednesday. A mixture of White's DNA and Doneghy's DNA was on the wheel. Richardson said White was no longer a suspect after several witnesses said Doneghy was alone in his car "in a short time frame" before and after the crash.

White testified that her DNA was on Doneghy's steering wheel because she had driven his SUV "a couple days before the incident." The two had visited White's mother, driven to Winburn and gone to an Applebee's restaurant, she said.

White said after they returned from Applebee's, she "smoked some more crack, smoked some weed and passed out." She woke up a short time later to Doneghy coming in the door and handing her a Mountain Dew, she said.

She said Doneghy then propped a chair against the door and began walking around the apartment talking to himself.

"It made me uneasy, so I left," she told the jury.

White went to the apartment of Anthony Tuggle, a friend with whom she had been staying. White said she slept until the day Durman was hit and killed. She said she didn't know how long she slept because she was "coming down" off a crack high.

Tuggle, who briefly took the stand, corroborated that story, telling the jury White woke up to eat about midday that day in April, and then went back to sleep until officers arrived searching for Doneghy that night.

White testified that she never drove Doneghy's car after their trip to Applebee's.

Richardson showed jurors a receipt for White and Doneghy's food order at Applebee's that showed they were actually at the restaurant April 28, 2010 — one day before Durman was killed. White said she often didn't know what day it was or how long she had been asleep during crack binges.

"Did you consider yourself a crack addict?" Larson asked.

"I was a crack whore. I know what I was," White replied.

White, 25, now pregnant with her fourth child, said she has been trying to get clean for the last year.

"The past three months is the longest I've been clean this whole entire time," she said.

Several of Doneghy's neighbors and acquaintances also testified Wednesday, telling jurors that Doneghy was alone before and after the crash.

Those witnesses testified seeing a "skinny white woman" who didn't live at the complex hanging out at Doneghy's apartment building for weeks before the crash, but that Doneghy was alone when he pulled into the parking lot with dents on his car the night of the crash.

Witnesses included two acquaintances of Doneghy who saw him at a gas station before the crash. They said his car was not damaged and he had no passengers at that time.

They testified that Doneghy was acting strangely at the gas station. Pump attendant Gary Williams said that after paying for gas, Doneghy lifted and hung up the gas nozzle "seven or eight times." He then got in and out of his car a couple times, lifting the nozzle and shaking it, Williams said.

Shamar Briggs, who was parked at another pump, said Doneghy "looked different to me than I have ever seen him."

She said he had glassy, red eyes and appeared to be "either scared or on drugs."

"He just looked like he wasn't supposed to be out or driving," she said, drawing an objection from defense attorneys and leading Judge James Ishmael to ask jurors to disregard that statement "because it is a conclusion as opposed to an observation."

Doneghy was found with crack cocaine in his pockets after the wreck, but the jury has not heard any forensic evidence that Doneghy was high at the time of the crash. Toxicology reports showed that Doneghy had used marijuana and cocaine within 24 hours of being arrested, but the tests could not pinpoint exactly when. Ishmael ruled that evidence inadmissible at trial.

Briggs said she asked Doneghy if he was OK, but he didn't respond. Briggs said he was "zoned out."

"You say he was zoned out, but he may have just been ignoring what you had to say," Defense Attorney Kate Dunn said.

Dunn raised doubt and anger among several witnesses by questioning them about exactly where they were and what time it was when they saw Doneghy's car.

Neighbor Jim McGlothin told prosecutors that Doneghy's car did not stop in the driveway to let a passenger out. After Dunn questioned where he was and how closely he was paying attention to the sound of Doneghy's car, McGlothin said he couldn't be sure.

Kathy Slade, a neighbor, told prosecutors she was sitting on the front porch of the complex when she saw Doneghy drive off in an undamaged "black Blazer" that later came back with dents on the front driver's side.

Dunn questioned Slade until she admitted that she could not see the front driver's side of the car from where she was sitting as Doneghy left. But Slade said she didn't see damage on the front of the car when she took trash out earlier in the day.

Testimony is scheduled to resume Thursday.

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