A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Former lead investigator Bruce McVay takes the stand in Dooley retrial, witness mentions first trial

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Another key element in the decision to grant David Dooley a new trial was seen in the courtroom Tuesday, in the person of former Boone County Sheriff’s Det. Bruce McVay.

Former Boone County Sheriff’s Det. Bruce McVay prepares to testify Tuesday in the David Dooley retrial. Dooley is charged with murder in the killing of Michelle Mockbee at Thermo Fisher Scientific in 2012. McVay, now retired, played a key role in the omission o f evidence that prompted the decision to grant Dooley a new trial (photo by Mark Hansel).

Just as the video featuring a “random dude” shown in court Monday shed little light on the case for this new jury, McVay’s testimony Tuesday did not reveal his role in having Dooley’s conviction thrown out.

In 2014, Dooley was convicted of killing Michelle Mockbee at the Thermo Fisher Scientific facility in Boone County where both worked, in the early morning hours of May 29, 2012.

Mockbee was employed by Thermo Fischer Scientific and Dooley worked for an outside contractor doing custodial work.

Circuit Judge James R. Schrand granted Dooley a new trial in May, 2017. Schrand ruled that evidence that might have aided in his defense was withheld from trial attorneys.

That evidence was the video of a man identified as a random dude walking on the grounds of Thermo Fisher Scientific hours before Mockbee was killed.

Former Boone/Gallatin Commonwealth Attorney Linda Tally Smith has testified previously that she was unaware of the video at the time of Dooley’s first trial because McVay withheld it from her.

McVay, now retired, was called as a prosecution witness Tuesday. His testimony focused on interviews with Dooley and other Thermo Fisher Scientific employees in the months leading up to Dooley’s arrest.

The lead detective in the case following the Mockbee killing, McVay spent several hours on the witness stand.

His testimony was interrupted for long periods as jurors and courtroom observers watched video interviews with Dooley.

McVay said Dooley became a suspect because of inconsistent statements made in interviews with investigators.

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 is on trial for murder in the killing (provided photo).

In his initial interview, Dooley failed to mention that he left Thermo Fisher Scientific on the morning Mockbee was killed.

During that interview, and in interviews with two other employees, McVay said his tape recorder stopped working and he had to rely on handwritten notes.

McVay testified that he was surprised to learn that Dooley did custodial work and was not a supervisor, because he had on clean white shoes and clean clothing. Witnesses have consistently described the warehouse environment as “filthy.”

After video surveillance from a company that shared the facility with Thermo Fisher Scientific showed Dooley’s truck leaving the property, McVay and Det. Everett Stahl decided to interview him again.

The detectives went to Dooley’s home and McVay interviewed him, while Stahl spoke with his wife, Janet Dooley on a balcony.

In that interview, Dooley volunteered that he had left Thermo Fisher Scientific that morning just after the time Mockbee was believed to have been killed.

Dooley said he had tried to reach his wife by phone, but when she didn’t answer, he became concerned.

In a later interview heard by jurors, McVay presses Dooley to explain why he failed to mention leaving the facility.

“I don’t know if you recall, but the first day that we talked, you didn’t mention anything about leaving the property, and then the next day, you talk about leaving the property,” Mcvay said. “Can you go over that? Do you mind explaining that?”

“I didn’t remember after everything we were going through,” Dooley said. “I just didn’t remember.”

Retired Boone County Sheriff’s Det. Bruce McVay (facing camera), along with with defense attorneys and prosecutors, watches a video interview Tuesday with David Dooley from 2012. Dooley is charged with murder in the killing of Michelle Mockbee (photo by Mark Hansel).

McVay said that in her interview, Janet Dooley stated that her husband did not come home at all that morning.

McVay questioned Dooley about the inconsistent statements in a recorded interview.

“Why would her story be different?” McVay asked.

“I don’t know, maybe because she wasn’t with me that day,” Dooley said. “She doesn’t know what I did when I was at Fisher.”

McVay said Janet Dooley’s statement wasn’t about his actions at Thermo Fisher Scientific, rather about him not returning home that morning.

“I don’t know,” was Dooley’s response.

Dooley’s recollection of events at the home that morning also changed over time.

In previous interviews that were recorded, Dooley said his wife was on the couch when he came home.

He said he kissed her, got a bottle of water, patted the cat and left.

In a recorded interview on September 27, 2012, Dooley told investigators his wife was in the bathroom when he got home.

He became agitated when investigators told him his statement had changed and insisted he never told them his wife was on the couch when he got home.

“I did not ever say she was sitting on the couch,” Dooley said.

Assistant Attorney General Jon Heck, who is the lead prosecutor for the Commonwealth, maintains that whoever killed Mockbee would have had to leave the warehouse to dispose of evidence.

Dooley is the only person that has been proven to have left the warehouse that morning.

A medical examiner has testified previously that he believes Mockbee was killed with a industrial tape dispenser, commonly referred to as a “tape gun.”

During the Sept. 27 interview, Dooley has clearly become aware that he is a suspect in Mockbee’s killing, though he continues to answer questions without an attorney present.

He told detectives he believed they were lying to him.

“We’re not trying to jam you up,” McVay said. “We’re trying to get to the bottom of this.”

McVay brought in a box and pulled out a tape gun, believed by investigators to be a replica of the one used to kill Mockbee.

The tactic, described as a “ruse,” was designed to see how Dooley would respond to seeing the tape gun.

McVay said Dooley ended the interview at that point and he was arrested and charged with murder that day.

Couple who got $10,000 gift from Dan Mockbee testify

Also Tuesday, Chris Black and his wife, Marta Black, took the stand.

Chris Black, who received a $10,000 gift from Dan Mockbee, denied Tuesday that the money was a payment to help kill Michelle Mockbee (pool photo).

Defense attorney Deanna Dennison produced a document last week showing that Mockbee’s husband, Dan Mockbee, wrote Chris Black a check for $10,000.

When questioned about the check, Mockbee seemed puzzled and said he never recalled writing it.

Marta Black said she asked Mockbee for the money because the couple was in dire financial straits and their home was about to be foreclosed on.

She said she used the money, not to make house payments, but for Christmas gifts, groceries and to catch up on other bills, after an attorney advised the couple to file bankruptcy.

Dennison has suggested the Mockbee may have hired someone to kill his wife and found it unusual that he couldn’t remember giving Black $10,000.

Heck asked Chris Black, who has known Dan Mockbee since they were kids, if he was involved in Mockbee’s killing in any way.

“No sir,” Black replied.

Marta Black created a stir when she referred to Dooley’s first trial in response to a question. Schrand advised attorneys before the trial began to instruct witnesses not to make any references to the previous trial, so as not to prejudice the jury.

The jury was dismissed and after a long discussion with attorneys and an adjournment, Schrand returned to the bench and instructed jurors to disregard any comments they may have heard about a previous trial.

Testimony is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today in Courtroom 4B of the Boone County Courthouse in Burlington.

McVay is expected to take the stand and resume his testimony under direct examination from prosecutors, followed by cross-examination by defense attorneys.

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

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

Related Posts

Leave a Comment