Georgetown man who drove into police horse is found guilty of assault, leaving accident scene

gkocher1@herald-leader.comApril 10, 2014 

Lexington police Officer Ray Alexander and his horse Paco, who were injured in downtown Lexington on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013.

JACK BURNS — Jack Burns

A Fayette County jury on Thursday found a Georgetown man guilty of fourth-degree assault and leaving the scene of an accident in the case of a collision between a car and a police horse.

The 10 men and two women on the jury found William D. Grimes not guilty on a charge of tampering with evidence. The jury took 2½ hours to reach a verdict.

On the charge of leaving the scene of an accident/failure to render aid or assistance, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a $2,000 fine or both, the jury recommended the maximum sentence and fine.

On the fourth-degree assault charge, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a $500 fine or both, the jury also recommended the maximum sentence and fine.

Fayette Circuit Judge Kimberly Bunnell remanded Grimes into custody and scheduled final sentencing for May 9.

Fayette County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson, who had sought a felony conviction of third-degree assault (punishable by one to five years in prison), expressed disappointment that the jury did not find Grimes guilty of tampering with evidence (also punishable by one to five years in prison).

"He clearly took the car away from the scene, but the jury makes the decision, not me," Larson said.

At 10:36 p.m. Sept. 19, police were called to West Main and Felix streets, near the Lexington Convention Center's Heritage Hall, where officer Raymond Alexander's horse, Paco, was struck. The accident caused Paco to rear and run, dumping Alexander onto the street. Both rider and horse suffered injuries.

Court records said Grimes, then 45, was driving west on Main Street when the collision occurred. Alexander and an officer riding with him were wearing yellow reflective traffic vests with "Lexington Police" in large letters on the back, the documents said.

Grimes was distracted, according to court documents, which said he was entering information into the GPS on his phone. He failed to help the officer and horse, documents said.

Grimes drove home and cleaned up evidence of the collision before taking the vehicle out of state, according to court documents.

In his closing argument to the jury, Larson said Alexander has suffered "prolonged impairment of his health" since the collision. Alexander had no comment after the trial.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Deedra Benthall presented the commonwealth's case during the trial. Grimes was represented by Lexington defense attorneys Tucker Richardson III and Russ Baldani.

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

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