A Fayette Circuit Court jury recommended Wednesday that a man spend at least 25 years behind bars for contributing to an 82-year-old man's death related to an attempted carjacking in 2013.
Joel David Searcy, 32, was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter, first-degree robbery, five counts of second-degree unlawful imprisonment and one count of leaving the scene of an accident and failing to render aid or assistance in the death of Donald "Leroy" Cook, according to court documents.
On Aug. 1, 2013, Searcy drove a woman's vehicle, with four children inside, "aimlessly and somewhat recklessly" for about two hours, the documents said.
The vehicle was eventually involved in a collision. Searcy drove away, stopped at Sixth Street and Headley Avenue, and then ran as the woman took the keys and began looking for help, the documents said. She later told police she and the four children had been kidnapped by Searcy. The woman and Searcy were acquaintancesd.
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At North Broadway and Loudon Avenue, Searcy tried to take Cook's car. Witnesses said they saw the men fighting in the vehicle before stopping at the PDQ Market at 400 New Circle and Meadow Lane.
People saw Searcy trying to throw Cook's oxygen tank out the window while Cook was trying to get out of the vehicle and get away. Searcy was seen standing over Cook while Cook was lying on the ground, and then Searcy ran away. Bystanders tackled Searcy and held him until police arrived. Cook later died at Saint Joseph Hospital.
A jury recommended 10 years on the manslaughter charge and 15 years on the robbery charge, to be served consecutively. Searcy waived sentencing by the jury on the imprisonment and failing to render aid or assistance charges.
Formal sentencing for Searcy is scheduled for May 29. He was being held in the Fayette County jail.