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Kidnapping, burglary case moves forward

Magistrate finds probable cause to prosecute David Eugene Mundy, of Hedgesville, W.Va.

Magistrate finds probable cause to prosecute David Eugene Mundy, of Hedgesville, W.Va.

October 18, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

The man who allegedly shot a West Virginia state trooper last week appeared in court Thursday afternoon for a brief hearing, watched by uniformed and plainclothes police, bailiffs and court employees.

David Eugene Munday, 37, of Hedgesville, W.Va., faces charges of kidnapping and burglary, both felonies. He has not been charged in connection with the shooting, and it was not mentioned during the 15-minute hearing, which was held to determine if probable cause existed to move the case forward.

On Oct. 10, Trooper Robert Elswick was shot once in the head with a .22 magnum bolt-action rifle. Elswick and other officers had gone to Rosemary Acres trailer park, off Butts Mill Road west of Hedgesville, to handle a possible domestic violence situation.

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Elswick remains in Washington County Hospital in critical condition. He underwent brain surgery last week.

In court, Munday kept his head down and his eyes closed throughout the hearing. He had tattoos along both arms, including a tattoo of a spider web on each elbow. A gauze bandage covered part of his right forearm.

The only person to testify was Johnny Ray Lambert Jr., whose trailer Munday is accused of breaking into.

Lambert, wearing blue sweat pants and a T-shirt, said he and Munday had been drinking a few hours before the shooting. He said he had had one beer, and that Munday seemed drunk.

Munday's court-appointed attorney, Robert E. Barrat, asked for a continuance before the hearing since he had received the case three hours earlier.

Magistrate Joan Bragg denied Barrat's request, saying later that everyone else was prepared and she saw no reason to delay it.

Barrat asked Lambert if Munday seemed excitable that night.

Lambert said yes, adding that Munday was also "outraged" over something.

Lambert said that after he and Munday had been drinking he went to his home, next to Munday's. Some time later, he said, he heard gunshots just before Munday kicked down his trailer's door and pointed a gun at him.

Lambert said he, his wife and his stepdaughter ran into a back bedroom, followed by Munday. His wife and stepdaughter escaped, which prompted Munday to hold Lambert at gunpoint inside his trailer, Lambert testified.

Munday eventually left, but returned a short time later, Lambert said.

Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely asked Lambert why he thought Munday returned.

"I guess to kill my wife," Lambert replied.

Police allege that Munday threatened to kill Lambert and his wife, believing they were trying to break up the relationship between Munday and his girlfriend.

After seeing police arrive, Munday left the trailer and shot Elswick, police allege. He was caught shortly afterward, after being shot by Trooper John Droppleman.

Munday was hospitalized for a couple of hours for treatment of a gunshot wound or wounds. Police have declined to say how many times Lambert was shot.

After Lambert finished testifying, Games-Neely rested the state's case. Magistrate Joan Bragg started to say she found probable cause to forward the charges, but Barrat interrupted, saying he wanted to make a closing statement.

In his statement, Barrat said the state had not proven enough for either the burglary or kidnapping charge to proceed.

Games-Neely argued that she had, and Bragg agreed. Bragg forwarded both charges to Circuit Court, where Munday could face a grand jury indictment.

Because kidnapping is a capital offense - punishable by up to life in prison - Munday is being held in Eastern Regional Jail without bail.

Several state troopers and other police officers attended the hearing.

Trooper T.C. Kearns, who was off duty and in civilian clothes, said he visited Elswick earlier in the day and planned to return.

He said Elswick is improving, and moved his left arm.

"He looks a lot better," Kearns said.

Soon, doctors hope to take Elswick off a ventilator and insert a feeding tube, Kearns said. It may not seem like much, Kearns said, but those small improvements mean a lot to people who were told earlier that Elswick would die.

"To go from there to here, it's been nothing short of a miracle," Kearns said.

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