Jury selection begins in trial of man accused of killing Lexington officer

Glenn Doneghy 2011
Glenn Doneghy 2011

About 100 potential jurors were sworn in Monday during the first day of an expected two-week trial of the man accused of hitting and killing a Lexington police officer in his car.

Glenn Rahan Doneghy is charged with murder in the April 2010 hit-and-run death of Lexington police officer Brian Durman.

It was the first time Doneghy appeared in court wearing something other than a green Fayette County jail jumpsuit. He sported a mustache, a blue sport coat and slacks.

Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael questioned jurors much of the day Monday. He asked jurors whether they knew Doneghy, defense attorneys or prosecutors. Several said they knew attorneys, and one woman said she knew Doneghy.

The judge also asked whether their religious or personal beliefs would preclude them from deciding a punishment for Doneghy if he were found guilty, leading several jurors to ask whether Doneghy could face the death penalty.

Doneghy is not facing the death penalty, Ishmael told the group.

Several times during the day, Ishmael admonished jurors not to read, watch or listen to any news coverage of the high-profile case, visit the scene of the crash or engage in social-media discussions on Web sites such as Twitter or Facebook.

Ishmael said jurors would not automatically be barred if they have previously seen coverage of the case. The judge has ruled that the trial might be moved if an impartial jury cannot be seated in Fayette County.

Durman's death made headlines and got air time in part because he was the first Lexington police officer to die in the line of duty in about 25 years. The decorated officer's funeral procession was hundreds of cars long, and thousands of Lexington residents watched it pass.

Ishmael told jurors they would be asked how pretrial publicity has influenced their perceptions of the case. That discussion did not happen Monday, but five jurors raised their hands when Ishmael asked whether they thought Doneghy was "guilty or probably guilty." Two jurors raised their hands when asked whether they were offended by the charges against him, which include murder, several counts of assault of a police officer, drug charges and fleeing the scene of an accident. Two more indicated that they thought Doneghy would have to prove his innocence to them at trial.

The majority of the group did not appear to have formed an opinion on the case based on Monday's discussion. By day's end, it appeared that about 20 jurors had been struck from the pool.

Jury selection is set to resume Tuesday morning.