Ex-University of Kentucky employee gets 10 years in death of Marine; appeal planned

jkegley@herald-leader.comDecember 6, 2012 

A former University of Kentucky employee convicted of manslaughter in the death of a U.S. Marine will appeal the verdict, his attorneys said.

Mike Douglas Rieder, 51, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday in the death of James R. Muzic, 29. Muzic was shot in the parking lot of a gas station in April 2011.

Police said Rieder and Muzic had been at the Office Lounge bar on Eastland Parkway near New Circle Road. Rieder had given Muzic a ride in his car, but the two began arguing.

Rieder pulled over at the gas station and told Muzic to get out. When Muzic refused, Rieder pulled him out of the car and pointed a gun at him, according to police reports. The gun discharged, killing Muzic.

A jury found Rieder guilty of second-degree manslaughter Oct. 3 following a trial that lasted several days.

During the trial, Rieder's attorneys argued that he acted in self-defense. The case will be appealed because evidence that bolstered the self-defense claim was wrongfully suppressed, said public defender Bonnie Potter, one of Rieder's attorneys.

There was evidence that Muzic "made aggressive movements and almost got into a fight with another man in the bar that night," Potter said. "The jury was not allowed to hear that information."

Potter and public defender Herb West, the lead attorney in the case, also argued that jurors should have been informed of the state's Castle Doctrine, a statute that allows people to defend themselves with deadly force from intruders or assault. Automobiles are included under the Castle Doctrine law.

Family members of both men were present during Reider's sentencing hearing in Fayette Circuit Court on Thursday morning. Both Rieder and Muzic were fathers of young children when the shooting occurred.

Fayette Circuit Court Judge Ernesto Scorsone upheld the jury's recommendation of 10 years in prison. He also ordered Rieder to pay restitution for Muzic's funeral costs, Potter said.

Before the shooting, Rieder was a truck driver for the University of Kentucky's Physical Plant Division. Muzic was a veteran who served in the early days of the Iraq war.

Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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