The trial of an allegedly drunken driver who killed Lexington cyclist Mark Hinkel during the 2015 Horsey Hundred won’t be moved, a judge ruled Thursday.
Scott Circuit Court Judge Paul Isaacs said during a hearing that he was not convinced that Odilon Paz-Salvador couldn’t get a fair trial because of publicity about the case. He did leave the option open, however, noting that since the trial is scheduled for May 2017, it’s too soon to tell whether there will be enough news coverage to sway community opinion against Paz-Salvador.
Defense attorney Kristen Gonzalez argued that the amount of attention generated by the case, especially online, has been substantial. She presented Isaacs with five pages of headlines. She said those represented a fraction of what had been reported.
In response, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Keith Eardley presented the testimony of two longtime Scott County residents who said they hadn’t heard much talk about the case.
“I think he can get a fair trial here,” said Mary Lou Walker, 87, who works part-time as a bailiff. She said she has lived in the county nearly all her life, and “I hear just about everything that goes on around here.”
According to police reports, Hinkel, 57, was riding along with a group of cyclist on Lemons Mill Road in the Horsey Hundred bicycling event. He was struck head-on and hit the windshield of a black Dodge truck driven by Paz-Salvador. Hinkel landed, bleeding but alive, on the bed liner of the truck, and Paz-Salvador drove for about 3 miles before being stopped by police. Paz-Salvador told police at the time that he had been drinking.
The Herald-Leader has reported court records show he has been charged with DUI three other times in the last five years.