Illicit affair of Kentucky prosecutor leads to murder conviction being thrown out
A Kentucky murder conviction has unraveled amid allegations that the elected prosecutor was having an affair with the lead detective on the case. The prosecutor’s office is also being accused of failing to disclose critical evidence to the defense.
David Wayne Dooley was convicted of the 2012 murder of Michelle Mockbee and sentenced to life in prison. The two were coworkers at the Thermo Scientific facility in Florence and Dooley was convicted even though prosecutors didn’t have any physical evidence that proved Dooley’s guilt.
Prosecutors said Dooley was the killer because he wouldn’t admit to having found her body, and because Mockbee’s husband, who also worked at Thermo Scientific, said he’d had issues with Dooley in the past.
But Dooley’s 2014 conviction was thrown out in May after Boone Circuit Court Judge James R. Schrand ruled that evidence that could have aided his defense was kept from his defense attorneys.
The withheld evidence involved a man visible on security cameras at Thermo Fisher Electric walking up to an outside door and attempting to enter about 10 hours before Mockbee was found beaten to death outside of the building.
The video of the unknown man was not handed over to defense attorneys before trial.
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear asked for the hearing that led to the conviction being thrown out. Beshear’s office did not support a new trial for Dooley, but said the hearing was necessary to make sure proper procedure was followed.
Beshear’s office took over the case after questionable conduct by Kentucky Commonwealth Attorney Linda Tally Smith, and will be responsible for retrying Dooley. After Dooley was convicted it came out that Tally Smith, who is married to a district court judge, was having an affair with then-Boone County Sheriff’s investigator Bruce McVay, the lead detective on the case.
Tally Smith and McVay contradicted each other at the postconviction hearing with McVay claiming he told Tally Smith about the video of the unknown man before the trial began and Tally Smith claiming she knew nothing about the video until after the trial was over.
Tally Smith has said the affair began after the Dooley trial concluded and lasted for six months. She has refused to resign as Commonwealth Attorney for Boone and Gallatin counties and will face a challenger when she runs for reelection in 2018.
More disturbing is a long letter Tally Smith wrote to McVay but says she never sent. Portions of that letter were published by the Northern Kentucky Tribunethat said “Even if I was aware that you had lied here or there on cases, I wouldn’t have wavered in that loyalty to you and ‘having your back.’”
A special prosecutor has been appointed to look into Tally Smith’s actions.