Man found guilty in 2011 shooting of Lexington taxi driver

gkocher1@herald-leader.comFebruary 1, 2013 

A man was found guilty of murder in the March 2011 shooting of Lexington taxi driver Amine Lemghaili.

In verdicts returned early Friday morning, a Fayette Circuit Court jury also found John Davis Cherry Jr. guilty of wanton endangerment and unlawful imprisonment.

The jury recommended the maximum sentence of life in prison for Cherry, 31. Judge Pamela Goodwine scheduled sentencing for March 8.

Lemghaili, 28, was found with a gunshot wound to the head inside his taxi in the Woodhill neighborhood. A native of Morocco, Lemghaili came to the United States in 2002 at age 19 to study at Rutgers University.

He moved to Lexington after a long-distance romance with Rachael Ratliff, whom he married in 2006. The couple had a daughter. Lemghaili was an independent contractor for Yellow Cab.

"He was a good and honest man," Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Traci Caneer said in her closing statements to the jury Thursday. "He worked long hours. He worked every night to make a living for his family."

In her closing, public defender Erica Roland asked the jury to consider lesser charges, such as reckless homicide, for Cherry.

Police arrested Cherry after a man reported seeing Cherry point a gun at a woman. Cherry then got a ride to a Wal-Mart on West New Circle Road so he could buy more bullets. He was arrested at the scene with a stolen gun, pills and marijuana in his possession, according to court documents.

A charge of receiving stolen property was dismissed. But Cherry was found guilty of carrying a concealed deadly weapon, third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, trafficking in less than 8 ounces of marijuana, and possession of a controlled substance not in the original container.

The case began Monday and was turned over to the jury Thursday afternoon. They deliberated until early Friday before returning a verdict.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305.Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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