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David Dooley’s fate is in the hands of the jury; charged with killing Michelle Mockbee in 2012

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

David Dooley’s fate is now in the hands of a Boone County jury.

Boone Circuit Judge James R. Schrand delivered instructions to the jury following the conclusion of testimony in the David Dooley murder trial Tuesday (photo by Mark Hansel).

Following rebuttal testimony from a few prosecution witnesses and a lunch break Tuesday, Boone Circuit Judge James R. Schrand delivered instructions to the jury.

Dooley defense attorney, Deanna Dennison, and assistant Attorney General Jon Heck, representing the Commonwealth, then gave closing arguments.

Dooley is charged with murder and tampering with physical evidence in the May 29, 2012 killing of Michelle Mockbee at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Boone County.

Mockbee, a Ft. Mitchell mother of two small girls, was brutally beaten to death at the facility in the early morning hours, soon after arriving at work following the Memorial Day holiday.

In 2014, Dooley was convicted of murder in the killing and sentenced to life in prison, but that decision was overturned.

Schrand, who also presided over the original trial, ruled that evidence that might have aided in Dooley’s defense was withheld from trial attorneys and granted him a new trial in May, 2017.

Dennison began her closing by expressing sympathy for the brutal slaying of Michelle Mockbee.

Defense attorney Deanna Dennison (standing, delivers her closing argument to a Boone County jury Tuesday. She said the mountain of evidence submitted by prosecutors means nothing, because it doesn’t tie David Dooley to the killing of Michelle Mockbee at Thermo Fisher Scientific in 2012.

“There is not one person in this room that does not feel for what happened to Michelle Mockbee, including the defense,” Dennison said. “But I will tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that Michelle Mockbee deserves to have the right killer prosecuted and that is not David Dooley.”

She then pleaded with jurors to recognize that the hundreds of exhibits introduced by prosecutors don’t mean anything if they don’t tie her client to the killing.

“I just don’t know what else we could show you, to show that he’s not guilty,” Dennison said.”There’s a mountain of evidence over there but it doesn’t connect him.”

Dennison has said throughout the trial that the only thing Dooley did wrong was to leave work for slightly more than half an hour, just after Mockbee was killed.

The defense maintains that Dooley went home to check on his wife, Janet Dooley, after she didn’t answer a phone call. The prosecution claims he left to change clothes and get rid of evidence.

The murder weapon, which prosecutors have said was an industrial tape dispenser, was never found.

Prosecutors say Dooley committed the killing because he and his wife were altering time cards to get pay they weren’t entitled to and Mockbee found out about it.

During the trial, a defense expert claimed the tape gun could not have delivered enough force to kill Mockbee, no matter who was using it. In her closing, Dennison said the brutality of the killing is not consistent with the prosecution’s alleged motive.

Assistant Attorney General Jon Heck, acknowledged in his closing that the Commonwealth’s case is based on circumstantial evidence but said that was enough to convict David Dooley in the killing of Michelle Mockbee. “At some point, a coincidence is not a coincidence…it’s just overwhelming evidence of guilt,” Heck said.

“Did you hear the evidence about the force that would be necessary in order to cause these injuries?” Dennison asked. “It would be a rage so great to have bludgeoned this woman to death and they want you to believe it’s over a time card?” 

Dennison also pointed to possible alternate suspects in the killing, including Mockbee’s husband, Dan Mockbee, either directly or as part of a conspiracy or warehouse worker Joseph Siegert. She also suggested an unknown person who gained access to the facility could have committed the crime..

She suggested that the Fisher Thermo Scientific facility was not as secure as prosecutors have claimed.

“Maybe a door was left, open, maybe it wasn’t, I don’t know – you can bypass things – I don’t know what could have happened,” Dennison said. “But to say that no possibility exists that it could be someone else…”

Dennison became very emotional at the end of her closing and seemed to choke back tears.

“I’m sure the statement is going to be that the defense is just trying to throw everything up in the air to you, just so they maybe hope something will stick,” Dennison said. “Well, yes we are. We’re trying to give you everything that we have – what they have on him is absolutely nothing.”

Heck began his closing by acknowledging that this was a difficult case.

“This is a circumstantial case, but as with any circumstantial case, when you bring the constellation of evidence together, you can render your verdict,” he said.

Heck put up a list of 14 examples of coincidental events from that day that, independently may not seem like much, but taken as a whole, he said, add up to murder.

David Dooley, center, watches closing arguments with members of his defense team Tuesday. Jury is charged with murder in the 2012 killing of Michelle Mockbee at Thermo fisher Scientific in 2012. His fate is now in the hands of a jury.

Heck said fresh pry marks on Mockbee’s office door were consistent with those made by a screwdriver found in the janitor’s closet Dooley used, according to a crime scene analyst.

“Ladies and gentlemen, when a woman is murdered and there are fresh pry marks on her office door, we call that a clue,” Heck said. “It is undisputed (that) at 6:31, David Dooley leaves. That’s what we call another clue.”

The defense claimed Dan Mockbee was a suspect because he has received, or will receive more than $1 million in insurance and other benefits from his wife’s death. To date, he has withdrawn more than $400,000 of that money, mostly in cash.

Heck dismissed the notion that Mockbee was the killer and pointed to his actions since his wife’s death to support that statement.

“Is he a cold blooded killer or is he a devastated husband?” Heck asked “He lives with the mother of his murdered wife. He’s raising two children he had with his murdered wife.”

Heck also pointed out that Mockbee continues to pay the mortgage on the home he shared with his wife, but hasn’t gotten rid of her things because seven years later, the pain is still too great.

“At some point, a coincidence is not a coincidence,” Heck said. At some point, it’s just overwhelming evidence of guilt.”

The pool of 15 jurors was reduced to the 12 who would deliberate after three alternates were chosen at random and dismissed.

The jury got the case at about 5 p.m. and deliberated for three hours before being sent home for the day.

Jury deliberations will continue today at 9 a.m. at the Boone County Courthouse in Burlington.

For links to the NKyTribune’s extensive coverage of the Dooley case, click here.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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