Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael declined Friday to step aside from the case of Glenn Rahan Doneghy, who will go on trial next year for murder in the death of Lexington police Officer Bryan Durman.
Doneghy's attorney, Kate Dunn, had filed a motion asking Ishmael to recuse himself from the case. She said Ishmael and officer Durman's family attended Southland Christian Church, and that might influence prospective jurors.
"I think the case should be presided over by a judge who doesn't have any connections," Dunn said during a hearing on the motion.
Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson said Ishmael should overrule the motion.
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Any influence on potential jurors could be determined "very easily" during jury selection, Larson said.
In the end, Ishmael said he would not take himself off the case.
"In recent years, as many as 10,000 people attend services at Southland on a given weekend, and I certainly don't know 10,000 people that attend church out there on the weekend," Ishmael said.
Furthermore, while Ishmael said he had attended Southland Christian since 1973, he said he hasn't attended there since late May or early June. Ishmael said he also doesn't know the Durman family, and "I had no idea they were members, attendees or anything at Southland."
"I know in my own heart that I have no bias or prejudice," Ishmael said. "I'm going to try my best to conduct this matter in a manner that is fair and in accordance with the law for all parties. I simply have no reason to recuse at this point."
Durman, 27, was struck and killed by a sport utility vehicle while investigating a noise complaint on North Limestone on April 29. Doneghy, 33, is accused of hitting Durman and then fleeing. He was later arrested at a nearby apartment complex. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.