Trial opens for man accused of shooting Lexington police officer

The 151/2-inch tall crèche is from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
The 151/2-inch tall crèche is from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Opening arguments in the trial of a man accused of injuring a Lexington police officer last year got under way Monday as a key witness made her way to Lexington.

Prosecutors in the case against Marc Anthony Buchanan, accused of wounding Officer Nicholas Whitcomb on April 13, 2009, were looking for the witness even after the jury had been selected and was ready. Prosecutors had prepared a motion requesting a new trial date, but within minutes they received word from investigators that the witness had been found in Cincinnati.

The witness, Ebony Burnam, had told authorities that Buchanan told her he'd shot a cop, and prosecutors said her testimony was necessary for their case. She testified Monday afternoon.

Buchanan, 27, is on trial in Fayette Circuit Court on charges of first-degree assault, fleeing and evading police in the first degree and tampering with physical evidence. He had been indicted on additional charges, including attempted murder, which were dismissed.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn told the jury that Buchanan shot Whitcomb in the back while fleeing on foot from the officer, who had responded to a call about suspicious activity outside Matador North Apartments at 1053 Winburn Drive. The bullet from the .357 revolver entered Whitcomb's right shoulder, traveled across his back, and lodged in his left shoulder. The officer was released from a hospital on April 14, 2009. Although the wound has healed, Whitcomb has bullet fragments in his body, nerve damage and limited range of motion in his shoulders, Red Corn said.

On the day of the shooting, Buchanan was a passenger in a car driven by Jesse Mayberry. Both Mayberry and Buchanan left the car and ran, each in a different direction, after Whitcomb shined his flashlight into the car and found them hiding there, Red Corn said.

Mayberry, 27, began serving a two-year prison term this year after pleading guilty to fleeing and evading police in the first degree and cocaine possession, according to court records. He is a witness for the prosecution in Buchanan's case.

Defense attorney George Sornberger told the jurors that much of the prosecution's evidence is not in dispute.

But, he said, "Follow the gun, men and women of the jury."

Sornberger indicated the gun used to shoot Whitcomb was Mayberry's, saying that Mayberry had gone out of his way to obtain it and was seen with it more than once.

"No one will put Marc with that gun in his hand prior to this incident," Sornberger said, referring to Whitcomb's shooting.

Red Corn said testing on the weapon showed that Mayberry and Buchanan could have handled the revolver.

Sornberger said Ebony Burnam and Mayberry have not told the complete truth about what happened that April night.

In March, Buchanan was released from jail after his grandmother Burma Fox posted a $50,000 property bond. Judge James Ishmael set several conditions for the bond, including electronic monitoring and a nightly curfew. Buchanan was arrested in September after he violated the terms of his pretrial release by testing positive for marijuana use and was returned to jail, according to authorities.

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