Doneghy Trial: witness's impartiality questioned

Defense attorneys question impartiality of expert witness in Doneghy case

he testifies SUV swerved toward durman

jkegley@herald-leader.comJune 28, 2011 

After hours of testimony Monday indicating that the driver who hit Lexington police officer Bryan Durman did so intentionally, defense attorneys called into question the impartiality of an expert witness because of an undisclosed business partnership with two officers.

Whether the driver of the sport-utility vehicle altered course toward Durman has long been a point of contention with Glenn Doneghy's defense attorneys, who have noted that North Limestone is narrow and Durman, 27, was standing on the passenger side of a parked vehicle facing the travel lane while investigating a noise complaint the night of April 29, 2010.

Doneghy, 34, is accused of murder in Durman's death. He is on trial in Fayette Circuit Court.

On Monday, prosecutors called to the witness stand Kentucky State Police instructor Richard Parkos, who conducted a re-enactment of the crash after reviewing two investigation reports — one by Lexington police and one by a retired state police trooper.

On May 26, Parkos brought three damaged cars back to the scene: two vehicles that were parked on the street and the maroon Chevrolet Tahoe allegedly driven by Doneghy.

Parkos and a team of state police officers compared "damage points" on the three vehicles by positioning them as they were on North Limestone when the collision occurred. Lexington police Sgt. Billy Richmond has testified Parkos was called in as an independent investigator to address discrepancies between the original police investigation and a follow-up investigation by the defense's expert witness, former state police trooper Sonny Cease.

On the stand, Parkos said he reviewed the police's and Cease's reports. He said conclusions in the police report were based on evidence, whereas Cease's findings contained "interpretation."

The findings of the re-enactment were shown to jurors in the form of photos taken from every conceivable angle, demonstrating that Doneghy's SUV changed course just before the crash.

Photos from the re-enactment showed Doneghy's SUV approaching at a 10- to 12-degree angle on an impact course with the passenger's side front door, where Durman was standing. There was no damage to the rear of the parked car.

Durman's body was the first point of impact, Parkos said during a slide show that showed dents on the front of the SUV caused by Durman's utility belt and elbow. The moving vehicle then hit the open door of the parked SUV and the front fender.

A scratch caused by a broken door hinge extends the length of Doneghy's SUV, indicating the SUV didn't swerve away. The Tahoe continued on its leftward path, sideswiping a car parked in front of the one Durman was investigating, Parkos said.

Using toy vehicles to demonstrate the laws of physics, Parkos said the moving SUV should have rebounded off the parked vehicle, either straightening its path or deflecting away. That it continued left indicated its path was "chosen, driven and held throughout the collision," Parkos said.

He also addressed defense claims that the street was dark and Durman wasn't visible. Doneghy's SUV had halogen headlights, which Parkos' independent studies have shown illuminate 250 feet in front of the car, as opposed to a "sealed-beam" light that illuminates 120 feet, he said.

That should have given the driver of the SUV plenty of time to avoid objects, he said.

"There was also ample time to select a target and go for that target," Parkos said.

Defense attorney Kate Dunn asked Parkos whether he had examined the headlights on Doneghy's SUV. Parkos said he had not, but the make and model of Doneghy's SUV takes only halogen bulbs.

Dunn asked whether Parkos was certain Doneghy's headlights were installed correctly or working correctly.

"Your testimony is based on halogen lights, set correctly, going straight forward on low beam," Dunn said.

"That is correct," Parkos said.

During her lengthy cross-examination, Dunn produced documents from the Kentucky secretary of state indicating Parkos was a member of Investigative Resources LLC, a Lexington-based private investigation firm formed by Lexington police officers Ricky Kendrick and John Ball.

Parkos said he was not a member of the firm, even though his name appeared on an annual report filed in 2007. He said he does paid consulting work for the firm.

"I review their reports," he said.

Parkos acknowledged he had not told prosecutors about his relationship with the officers before he was brought in as an independent witness.

Parkos said neither Kendrick nor Ball had anything to do with the re-enactment of the crash. He said Ball had shown him the site of the crash the day before. Dunn showed Parkos about a dozen pictures of Ball at the scene of the re-enactment, asking him to identify Ball and the other officers visible in each one.

"Mr. Ball was present, but he was not involved at all with the Kentucky State Police," Parkos said.

Doneghy's trial continues at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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