Munday's trial will be rescheduled

August 12, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A judge agreed Monday to reschedule the trial of David Eugene Munday, who is charged with shooting a West Virginia State Trooper in the head last fall, after Munday's attorneys said they have not received his final psychological evaluations.

Munday, 38, of Hedgesville, W.Va., had been scheduled to stand trial next week. Circuit Judge David Sanders said he hoped to reschedule the trial for October, but a specific date was not set.

Munday is charged with shooting West Virginia State Police Trooper R.J. "Bobby" Elswick once in the head on Oct. 10, 2002. After months of hospitalization and rehabilitation, Elswick is recovering at his Martinsburg home.


At the hour-long pretrial hearing Monday morning, one of Munday's attorneys, Margaret Gordon, told Sanders that a psychologist from Baltimore had not turned in a final report. For a separate criminal case in Maryland, that same doctor previously diagnosed Munday as being bipolar, she said. Gordon told Sanders that the doctor told her over the phone that he intends to maintain that diagnosis.

A second doctor, who works at EastRidge Health Systems in Martinsburg, also is scheduled to examine Munday to determine whether he should be held criminally responsible for his actions, Gordon said.

Other issues discussed during the hearing included statements police allege that Munday made after the shooting.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said a jury should hear the statements, but Munday's attorneys said they hope to exclude them from trial.

The statements include ones Munday made to police just after the shooting and statements he made inside an ambulance as he was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg. Munday was injured when Trooper John Droppleman returned fire with a shotgun after the shooting.

Munday also made additional statements to Sgt. D.S. Richmond, of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, as Richmond took Munday from the hospital to Eastern Regional Jail, Games-Neely said.

Games-Neely also is seeking to include at trial phone conversations Munday had with friends and family while in jail. Those conversations were taped.

Whether a local jury will hear the case remains to be seen. V.J. Brown, a sociology professor at Shepherd College, is performing a study to determine whether a change of venue is appropriate. Brown has finished telephone polls and is preparing a report, Gordon said.

Typically during high-profile trials, an attempt is made to seat an impartial local jury before a change of venue is sought, Games-Neely said.

An alternative to holding the trial in another county is to bring a jury in from another part of the state. Several years ago, during the trial of a man accused of killing his young niece, a jury was brought here from Morgantown, W.Va., and sequestered in a hotel, Games-Neely said.

Once a jury is selected, Games-Neely said she wants to take them to the scene of the shooting. Sanders said he will allow that.

Munday was silent during the hearing, saying only "yes, sir" when Sanders asked him if he agreed to give up his speedy-trial rights.

Several police officers in the courtroom stopped their conversations and stared at Munday when a bailiff led him into the room. All of the officers were there to testify, if needed, in regard to the statements Munday is alleged to have made. Another hearing will be held next week to determine whether the statements will be admissible at trial.

Neither Elswick nor any members of his family attended the hearing.

Elswick was shot as he and three other troopers responded to Rosemary Acres off Harper Lane for a report of a possible hostage situation. Munday also was charged in connection with that incident, in which he allegedly held a neighbor hostage at gunpoint.

Munday is being held without bond in Potomac Highlands Regional Jail in Romney, W.Va.

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