By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor
Boone Commonwealth’s Attorney Linda Tally Smith admitted to having a sexual relationship with the lead detective in a high-profile murder case, but said it did not begin until after the trial concluded.
Tally Smith said she developed a bond with lead detective Bruce McVay, who has since retired from the Boone County Sheriff’s office, as they worked together preparing for the trial of David Dooley.
Dooley was sentenced to life in prison in 2014, for killing Michelle Mockbee outside of Thermo Fisher Scientific, in the Northern Kentucky Industrial Park in Florence.
Mockbee, a mother of two small children, was found bludgeoned to death shortly after she arrived at work on May 29, 2012.
Tally Smith is testifying in a CR 60.02 hearing to determine if Dooley will receive a new trial. At issue is whether the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office withheld potentially exculpatory evidence that could have aided in Dooley’s defense.
Tally Smith said that not only did she provide Dooley’s defense team all of the evidence they asked for, she gave them more than they were entitled to.
She became emotional when responding to the allegations.
“When somebody accuses you of withholding evidence and there’s documents that show that repeatedly we not only provided it but discussed it and told them how to get to it, it bothers me,” Tally Smith said.
Many of the claims by Dooley’s attorney Deanna Dennison that Tally Smith withheld evidence were detailed in an electronic memorandum filed on March 9.
Tally Smith took the stand Friday morning shortly after 9 a.m., and for more than four hours, attempted to dispute the allegations under questioning by Special Prosecutor Shawna Kincer.
Kincer and Deputy Attorney General J. Michael Brown represent the Office of the Attorney General at the hearing. The OAG’s office took over the case after a thumb drive obtained from a former employee raised questions about Tally Smith’s conduct during and after the Dooley Trial.
The thumb drive, which was shared with the OAG’s office, is alleged to contain volumes of information, including email and text messages between Tally Smith and McVay.
The key piece of evidence is a video surveillance camera that shows a man walking down a driveway at 8:11 p.m. on May 28, 10 hours before Mockbee was killed, which Dooley’s trial attorneys claim they never saw.
The man, identified by investigators as a “random dude,” appears to attempt to make entry into the building, then disappears out of the frame and is never seen on tape again.
Tally Smith said McVay commented about other things on video, such as deer and raccoons, but didn’t mention the “random dude” until months after the trial was concluded and that really upset her.
“His main job getting ready for trial was to review that video to make sure there was nothing on that video that I didn’t know about,” Tally Smith said.
McVay said he didn’t tell Tally Smith about the man because he and Deputy Everett Stahl had determined the man was a truck driver who left the facility just a few minutes after Mockbee arrived at work, and was eliminated as a suspect.
Tally Smith, who is married, said she began the affair with McVay in November, 2014 and it continued until April, 2015. Dooley was convicted Oct. 9, 2014.
She entered into the affair despite testifying Friday that she knew of McVay’s reputation as a womanizer, and also described him as “cocky.”
McVay who testified Thursday, also acknowledged the affair and said he and Tally Smith exchanged emails using private accounts.
On the accounts, his name was Carter Davidson and Tally Smith’s was Chiquita Queen.
Tally Smith said Friday that she set up the account years ago and it was not established just to correspond surreptitiously with McVay.
She also said that some of the claims contained in the memorandum were from a correspondence she drafted for McVay, but never sent.
Tally Smith also attempted to explain, in part, something that has puzzled observers of the case for months – why she kept so much personal information on a server that could be accessed by employees in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office.
She said one never knows when something that may seem unimportant during an investigation, could become valuable information at a later date.
“I’ve been doing this long enough to know no case is ever over after you try it before a jury,” Tally Smith said. “Any one little thing pulled out that wasn’t addressed during the jury trial all of a sudden becomes a big deal.”
Dennison and her co-counsel, Jeff Lawson, objected several times during Tally Smith’s testimony, including once when the Commonwealth’s Attorney became emotional while discussing attempts by some to implicate other suspects.
“Seeing what’s happened through this whole circus and seeing fingers pointed at people that shouldn’t be pointed at – accusing them of murdering Michelle Mockbee without a shred of evidence to back it up is the complete opposite of what prosecutors should do.”
Throughout the trial, presiding Circuit Court Judge James R. Schrand has routinely heard objections at the bench, so the rulings are often not clear. In this instance, Kincer moved on to another topic.
Dennison and Kincer also objected to a comment at the end of Tally Smith’s testimony Friday regarding the theft of personal information from a private account, presumably the contents of the thumb drive.
After the objection, Schrand adjourned court for the day abruptly, leading to speculation that he may need time to consider a ruling.
Attorneys had indicated earlier that they expected testimony to be wrapped up Friday.
Lawson, however, said the defense expects its questioning to take more than two hours and they wanted to conduct it in its entirety without a weekend interruption.
The hearing will resume Monday at 10 a.m. in the Boone County Courthouse in Burlington.
Contact Mark Hansel at email@example.com