Fayette grand jury drops charge against father in girl's lawn mower death

HE SAID HE'd HAD TWO BEERS THAT DAY

jhewlett@herald-leader.comNovember 23, 2011 

A Fayette County grand jury declined to indict the father of a 2-year-old girl killed in a lawn mower accident in May.

William Jackson McReynolds II, 40, had been charged by police with second-degree manslaughter after Adelaide McReynolds died May 25 from blunt-force and sharp-force trauma. She fell off a zero-turn mower that her father was operating outside the family's home on Hillgate Drive, according to police.

Police served a criminal complaint and summons against the father in late August. He pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charge in Fayette District Court in September.

The grand jury decided on Monday not to indict McReynolds. The grand jury considered indictments in several cases Monday, but the decisions weren't made available in the Fayette Circuit Clerk's office until Tuesday.

Police said McReynolds had an "odor of alcohol beverage" when officers interviewed him just after the May incident.

McReynolds, a co-owner of A.P. Suggins Bar & Grill, told police he had worked that day and had consumed two one-pint draft beers.

When he got home later that day, he allowed Adelaide to ride on the mower with him. She sat in a child's chair that McReynolds had placed on the mower's front deck while he cut the grass, McReynolds told police.

"The seat is not fastened down or in any way attached to the mower," a police officer said in the complaint against McReynolds.

McReynolds told police that his 7-year-old son, Sam, came out of the house later and sat in McReynolds' lap as he mowed.

McReynolds said he was mowing "at about half throttle" and made a turn, and Adelaide fell from the mower.

"Before Mr. McReynolds could stop, he ran the child over, and the blades were turning and struck the child in several areas of the body," the complaint said. "Mr. McReynolds advised that he struck the child before he even noticed that she was not in the seat."

The father refused to submit to blood and urine tests and was detained, the complaint said. Police obtained a warrant and took McReynolds to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where samples of his blood and urine were taken.

A Kentucky State Police laboratory report issued in June said McReynolds had a blood-alcohol content of 0.04 percent. A driver whose blood content registers 0.08 or above is considered to be intoxicated under state law. A consultant for the state medical examiner's office said that at the time of the mowing incident, McReynolds' blood-alcohol content would have been between 0.115 and 0.14 percent.

"All of the evidence was presented to the grand jury, and the grand jury made a decision," Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson said. "We asked grand jurors — 12 citizens — to listen to the evidence and make a decision, and that's what they did."

Second-degree manslaughter is a Class C felony punishable by five to 10 years in prison.

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

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