Pot evidence can't be used against former Garrard official

LANCASTER — A Garrard Circuit Court judge has granted a defense motion to suppress at trial any evidence that marijuana was in the bloodstream of a former county official accused of murder in a 2007 fatal crash that killed one man and injured another.

There is no scientific proof that Dwayne Nave, a former emergency management director for Garrard County, was impaired by marijuana, Judge Hunter Daugherty ruled last week.

At issue was the alleged "wanton conduct" of Nave, scheduled to go on trial June 29 in Lancaster on charges of murder, assault and driving under the influence.

The prosecution had hoped to introduce the marijuana evidence for a jury to consider, arguing that it shows that Nave acted "under circumstances showing extreme indifference to human life," the standard for wanton murder.

The judge's ruling was filed into the record Tuesday but was dated April 29, the second anniversary of the crash in which Nave's official vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe, collided with a pickup on U.S. 27 near Bryantsville. The pickup driver, Willard Quinn, 43, of Parksville, was killed, and a passenger, Kevin Reed of Stanford, was seriously injured. Nave resigned as emergency management director in June 2007.

Nave's blood-alcohol content was 0.12 when it was taken at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville nearly two hours after the crash. The blood test also showed that tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was in Nave's system.

During a hearing in March, experts for the defense and prosecution disagreed on whether Nave was impaired by marijuana as well as alcohol.

The level of THC was such that "it just as easily could have been a residual from chronic smoking" as from recent smoking, Daugherty wrote in his ruling. Daugherty wrote that "there is no scientific proof of impairment from the THC, and the prejudice of that evidence far outweighs the probative value."

Nave remains free on bond.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader