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Dooley convicted of murder in killing of Michelle Mockbee, sentenced to a total of 43 years in prison

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Michelle Mockbee was killed at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Boone County almost seven years ago.

Michelle Mockbee, a Fort Mitchell mother of two, was killed at the Thermo Fisher Scientific plant where she worked in May, 2012. David Dooley, who worked as an outside contractor at the facility, was convicted of murder in the killing Wednesday and sentence to up to 43 years in prison (provided photo).

It took a Boone County jury less that seven hours to convict David Dooley of murder and tampering with physical evidence in her killing.

He now faces up to 43 years in prison.

The jury began deliberations after closing arguments Tuesday evening, resumed Wednesday morning, and returned the guilty verdict just before 1 p.m.

It marks the second time Dooley, 44, has been found guilty of murder in this case. In 2014, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

In 2017, that decision was thrown out when Boone Circuit Judge James R. Schrand ruled that evidence that could have aided in Dooley’s defense was withheld from trial attorneys, setting the stage for the retrial.

The defense attempted to portray Dan Mockbee, Michelle’s husband, as an alternate suspect in the case. Mockbee has received, or will receive more than $1 million in compensation from insurance and other sources since his wife’s death.

He said the suggestion that he would be involved in a conspiracy to kill his wife just added to his anguish.

“Me and Michelle were as happy as can be,” Mockbee said. “Michelle was the most energetic person you’d ever want to meet in your life.”

Mockbee described his wife as the love of his life.

Dan Mockbee, holding his great niece, spoke to reporters following Wednesday’s conviction of David Dooley. He said defense allegations that he was somehow involved in the killing of his wife has just added to his anguish (photo by Mark Hansel).

“You know, you never get over it – there’s no way to get over anything like this,” he said. “I’m just glad it’s over – I’m bursting with relief.”

The Mockbees have two young daughters, who were ages 7 and 10, at the time Michelle was killed. The youngest, Madelyn Mockbee, who is now 14, talked about her memories of her mom.

“She was just a really sweet and caring mom,” Madelyn said. “Like, if we were sad or anything negative, she would always try her best to make sure we were just the opposite. She was amazing.”

Madelyn Mockbee still wears a ring that belonged to her mother on a chain around her neck.

Michelle Mockbee’s family has supported her husband throughout the proceedings. Many remained in the courtroom throughout the trial despite some grisly images from the crime scene being presented as evidence.

Jennifer Schneider, Michelle’s sister, spoke to reporters following the verdict.

Madelyn Mockbee, who was seven years old at the time her mother, Michelle Mockbee, was killed, speaks to reporters following David Dooley’s conviction. The ring she is wearing around her neck belonged to her mother (photo by Mark Hansel).

“What is extremely frustrating is that we saw fingers pointed at my brother-in-law Dan (and) I can’t even describe to you what that felt like because we know the kind of person he is,” Schneider said. “We have a huge weight lifted off our shoulders now, just to have a guilty verdict again. A big relief, and just hopefully everyone sees the truth now.”

Michelle Mockbee was killed at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Boone County on May 29, 2012. She was bludgeoned to death shortly after she arrived at work early that morning to do payroll.

David Dooley was employed as an outside contractor at the facility to do custodial work. Prosecutors say he and his wife were falsifying time cards and he killed Mockbee because she found out about it.

He was seen on surveillance video leaving the facility for more than 30 minutes shortly after Mockbee was killed.

Prosecutors say it was to get rid of evidence.

In Kentucky, jurors also decide the punishment following a murder conviction. They could have chosen a sentence of anywhere from 20 to 50 years, or life in prison. 

At the sentencing hearing, defense attorney Jeff Lawson became emotional as he spoke to the jury.

“Every single day I have gone through this…my heart has wrenched for this family, just as my heart wrenches for David,” Lawson said.

He asked for the minimum sentence.

Dooley’s stepdaughter, Amanda Cuthbert also asked for leniency.

Jennifer Schneider (left), and Cindy Parker say they finally have justice for their sister, Michelle Mockbee, following Wednesday’s guilty verdict (photo by Mark Hansel).

“I never though that he did this,” Cuthbert said. “My family has just been torn apart by this, and kids have suffered on both sides for both families and I understand, but (Dooley) has two daughters of his own.”

Assistant Attorney General Jon Heck, who represented the Commonwealth in the proceeding, showed the jury Dooley’s previous criminal history, which could not be admitted at trial.

Dooley’s record included felony convictions for burglary, theft by deception and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, the last of which was in 1996.

Heck acknowledged the gap between offenses but said if the goal of prison is to reform those convicted, it failed with Dooley.

“It reformed him so well that he beat Michelle Mockbee to death,” Heck said.

He asked for the maximum sentence.

“I’m starting with life and I’m ending with life.”

Someone convicted of murder must serve 85 percent of  his or her sentence, not to exceed 20 years for parole eligibility.

If sentenced to 20 years, Dooley would have been eligible for parole after 17, years, less the almost seven years he has already been incarcerated.

The jury clearly did not think that was long enough. 

Dooley attorney Jeff Lawson maintained his client, David Dooley’s, innocence Wednesday and said the murder conviction will be appealed (photo by Mark Hansel).

They recommended a sentence of 38 years on the murder charge and 5 years for tampering with physical evidence. They also chose for the sentences to be served consecutively, meaning Dooley must complete one sentence before he begins serving time on the other. 

Following the sentencing hearing and the jury’s recommendation, Heck declined to comment, as he has throughout the proceeding.

Attorney General Andy Beshear issued a statement on behalf of the Commonwealth, which read, in part:

“Justice demands a fair trial process. Through this retrial, Mr. Dooley received a fair trial and was convicted. Justice has now been served.”

Lawson disagreed and said the verdict will be appealed.

“I’m no less convinced today that David didn’t commit this crime, and we’re going to keep fighting and take it up on appeal and see what the Supreme Court wants to do with it,” Lawson said. “Hopefully one day down the road a jury will see it right. “I don’t see this proved beyond a reasonable doubt but the jury saw it differently.”

Dooley will be formally sentenced April 11.

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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  1. Margaret Lynn Fewell says:

    What happened to “beyond a reasonable doubt” to convict a person of committing a crime? There is no motive, time sheets were not proven to be a reason! I use checkmarks to note what I have looked at and approved. No weapon. The prosecution’s suggested weapon was disproven. No DNA! Based on DNA, could have been several individuals including the deceased’s husband. Bottom line, no evidence!


    The Jury disagrees with you.

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