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Trooper shooting suspect's mental status is in dispute

July 04, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

A psychologist at South Central Regional Jail in Charleston, W.Va., declared that David Eugene Munday does not have bipolar disorder, but one of Munday's attorneys maintained that he does and plans to hire another doctor to examine him.

Munday, 38, of Hedgesville, W.Va., is charged in the Oct. 10, 2002, shooting of West Virginia State Police Trooper R.J. "Bobby" Elswick.

Elswick, who was shot once in the head, is recovering.

In 2000, a Maryland doctor declared that Munday had bipolar disorder, defense attorney Margaret Gordon said during a pre-trial hearing Thursday morning. Gordon said she plans to hire that same doctor to re-examine Munday to determine "if he is still bipolar, which I believe he is."

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Bipolar disorder is also called manic-depressive disorder.

Gordon said she wants to know how alcohol may have affected Munday's condition and whether it would have affected statements he gave to police officers and others on the night of the shooting.

Munday was drinking in the hours that led up to the 8:49 p.m. shooting, records allege.

At Gordon's request, Munday's trial, which was scheduled to begin Aug. 19, was continued. A new date was not set.

At the hearing, Gordon asked that the charges against Munday be dismissed because of what she called an unconstitutional indictment. A grand jury indicted Munday on 28 felony and misdemeanor charges in February. One of those charges - wanton endangerment with a firearm - was dismissed Thursday.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said that charge stemmed from the same act that led to a charge of malicious wounding of a police officer, meaning the wanton endangerment charge could be dropped.

Gordon said all of the charges should be dropped because she has not been able to figure out which of the charges in the "broad-sweeping" indictment stem from which allegations. She said some of the counts may constitute double jeopardy.

Excluding the charge that was dismissed, Munday was indicted on charges of entering without breaking, two counts of breaking and entering, three counts of kidnapping, five counts of wanton endangerment, one count of malicious wounding of a police officer, four counts of attempted murder, four counts of brandishing a firearm, three counts of shooting a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, one count of assault, one count of destruction of property, one count of attempting to commit a violent injury and one count of fleeing on foot.

Circuit Judge David Sanders denied the motion to dismiss the charges. He also ruled that Games-Neely did not have to delineate which charges stem from which actions.

Sanders agreed with Gordon that a large number of uniformed officers should not attend the trial.

During any case that involves a police officer or an officer's family, Games-Neely said she sends out a memo asking that officers who do not expect to testify attend the proceedings in plainclothes.

Because many police officers are interested in the case, Games-Neely said it is possible some uniformed officers might stop in during the trial. She said she has no authority to demand officers wear plainclothes.

Elswick was shot from a dark, wooded area as he and three other state troopers approached Munday's trailer near Hedgesville, according to reports. The officers were responding to a domestic call on Harper Lane.

After Elswick was shot, Munday ran into the nearby woods, followed by two of the troopers, records allege. Gunfire was exchanged and Munday was hit by pellets from a shotgun blast, police reports show. He was not seriously injured.

In the woods, police found the gun used to shoot Elswick, a .22 Magnum Marlin bolt-action rifle, records allege.

Munday's girlfriend bought the gun from Mountaineer Pawn Shop in Hedgesville 15 days before the shooting, records say. Someone else had pawned the gun at the shop on Christmas Eve, 2001, according to police records.

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