A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Still no date for Dooley retrial in the 2012 killing of Michelle Mockbee; pretrial conference set for January

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

David Dooley will have to wait until next year to find out the date for his new trial.

David Dooley, right prepares to be led out of the courtroom following Friday’s pretrial hearing. Dooley’s attorneys Deanna Dennison, left and Jeff Lawson, continue continue to prepare his defense in a retrial for the killing of Michelle Mockbee in 2012 (Photos by Mark Hansel).

There was speculation that Circuit Court Judge James R. Schrand might set the date at a pretrial conference Friday morning, but Dooley’s attorney, Deanna Dennison, said she needed more time to review and have evidence she has just received tested.

“I don’t want to keep delaying this for him (Dooley),” Dennison said. “We can say all day long that we want to do all of this independent testing, well we may want to do it tomorrow, but a lot of people can’t just do it tomorrow. I think that’s going to take some time.”

A pretrial conference has now been scheduled for January 23, at 10:30 a.m. at which time all parties hope to be prepared to set a trial date.

Dooley was convicted in 2014 of killing Michelle Mockbee at the Thermo Fisher Scientific facility in Boone County where both worked, and he was sentenced to life in prison. Mockbee, a Fort Mitchell mother of two, was found beaten to death in the facility at the Northern Kentucky Industrial Park in May, 2012.

The extension was the latest in a series of pretrial conferences that began after Schrand granted Dooley a new trial in May. While pretrial conferences are not unusual in a capital case, the latest delay means it might be a year or more from the date Dooley was granted a new trial until a jury is seated

Dooley’s attorneys appealed his 2014 conviction, but in October, 2016, Attorney General Andy Beshear asked the State Supreme Court to delay a decision pending a CR 60.02 hearing to determine if Dooley should be granted a new trial.

Michelle Mockbee, a Fort Mitchell mother of two, was killed at the Thermo Fisher Scientific facility where she worked in Boone County. David Dooley was convicted of the killing in 2014 and was sentenced to life in prison, but was granted a new trial in May (provided photo).

In an unusual move, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) asked for the CR 60.02 hearing after it took over prosecution of the case. Attorneys the Tribune has consulted with say they can’t ever recall an instance where a prosecutor, not an attorney for the defendant, has requested a new trial.

The request came after a former employee of the Boone County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office obtained information that calls into question the conduct of Commonwealth Attorney Linda Tally Smith and Bruce McVay, the lead detective during the investigation.

The former employee, Nicholas Ramler, shared the information, which he stored on a thumb drive, with his attorney, Steve Wolnitzek, Wolnitzek then turned it over to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

Tally Smith says Ramler is a disgruntled former employee who attempted to use the information on the thumb drive to blackmail her to keep his job. Wolnitzek said his client is a whistleblower who copied the information and ultimately turned it over to the OAG because its contents indicated possible misconduct by Tally Smith.

Tally Smith and her husband, District Court Judge Jeff Smith, have filed a civil action against Ramler, in part, to keep the contents of the thumb drive confidential.

Some of the 13 gigabytes of information contained on the thumb drive was made public, however, as evidence in the CR 60.02 hearing. Thirteen gigabytes of information is the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of documents and/or pictures.

David Dooley’s wife, Janet Dooley, left, and Michelle Mockbee’s sister, Jennifer Schneider, far right, have attended the CR 60.02 hearing and each of the pretrial conferences, seated on opposite sides of the courtroom.

Among the now-public information were correspondences between Tally Smith and McVay, who has since retired from the Boone County Sheriff’s office, indicating they had been involved in an affair. Both Tally Smith and McVay confirmed the sexual relationship during the course of the CR 60.02 hearing, which she says began after Dooley was convicted.

Talley Smith indicated in another correspondence that she would have McVay’s back if he cut corners on cases. She says in the letter that McVay’s questionable conduct was common knowledge among other detectives, who referred to the practice as “pulling a Bruce.”

The OAG has asked for a special prosecutor to investigate  Tally Smith’s conduct for possible impropriety.

Also at the CR 60.02 hearing, Dooley’s original trial attorneys say they never saw a video showing a man identified as a “random dude,” walking on the Thermo Fisher Scientific property hours before Mockbee was killed.

McVay said he and another investigator determined the man to be a truck driver who arrived at the facility the night before the killing. A log indicates the truck driver, Alvin Reynolds, left the property at about the same time Mockbee was killed.

The man on the video, however, does not appear to match the physical characteristics of Reynolds, who says he never got out of his truck after arriving at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

During the CR 60.02 hearing, a correspondence written by Tally Smith to McVay indicates she became aware of the video at some point, but did not disclose that knowledge until it was revealed on the thumb drive.

“And I get to live with the worry that someone on the defense side will find it at some point and that we’ll all wind up in trouble over it. And the entire case will be tainted because of it,” she wrote.

Following the CR 60.02 hearing, Schrand threw out the 2014 conviction and granted Dooley a new trial because evidence that was potentially exculpatory was not provided to Dooley’s attorneys at the trial.

Dooley has always maintained his innocence, claiming at his sentencing hearing in 2014 that he had “been railroaded.”

He has been incarcerated since 2012 and Schrand denied a reduction in his $1 million cash bond following a September 20 hearing, virtually assuring he will remain in jail at least until the trial is concluded.

Schrand presided over the original trial, as well as the CR 60.02 hearing and will also preside over the retrial.

For the NKyTribune’s complete coverage of the Dooley case, go to www.nkytribune.com and, using the search tool, enter the word “Dooley.”

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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One Comment

  1. Dean knolls says:

    How long can this Judge delay the inevitable, Dooley’s vindication? subsequent law suits will bankrupt Boone County and expose corruption in Sheriff’s department. Shane Young (OAG special prosecutor) has already interviewed several officials and employees in Boone County and has interviews scheduled with people involved in other cases

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