Bryan Durman Act advances in the General Assembly

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comFebruary 14, 2013 

Lexington police officer Bryan J. Durman

FRANKFORT — Lexington Police Officer Bryan Durman talked to his then 4-year-old son less than 30 minutes before he was killed by a hit-and-run driver in April 2010.

After Durman's death, Brandy Durman tried to explain to her young son that his father had died. He asked her if the man who killed his father would spend the rest of his life in jail.

He won't.

Glenn Doneghy, who was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in Durman's death, will be eligible for parole on April 30, 2014, Brandy Durman told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Manslaughter is not considered a violent crime, which means Doneghy can seek parole after serving 20 percent of his 20-year sentence.

Under Senate Bill 15, people convicted of second-degree manslaughter would be considered violent offenders. As a result, they would have to serve 85 percent of their sentence before pursuing parole.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill, known as the Bryan Durman Act, on Thursday, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.

If Durman had only been severely injured, Doneghy would have to serve 85 percent of his sentence, Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, told the committee.

"He would have served 81/2 to 12 years in prison," said Kerr, the sponsor of SB 15.

Second-degree manslaughter is a Class C felony with a sentence of 5 to 10 years.

Ernie Lewis of the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers cautioned the committee that there could be unintended consequences to making manslaughter a violent crime.

Lewis cited several manslaughter cases in Kentucky: A university professor who accidentally left her infant in a car seat; a minister who failed to lock up his gun and his son accidentally shot a friend; a husband who was taking his pregnant wife to the hospital, ran a red light and was T-boned by another vehicle, killing his wife and unborn child.

Each of those cases is different, Lewis said.

"If SB 15 were to pass, you would have to ignore the facts of those cases or the circumstances of the person involved," Lewis said. "Cookie cutter justice is not justice."

Several senators who voted in favor of the bill said that Lewis' concerns were valid and that the bill may need to be amended before the full Senate votes on it.

Also Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB 47, which would allow police to take DNA samples at the time of arrest. A similar measure passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Beth Musgrave: (502) 875-3793. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

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