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Officer: Munday wanted to die

August 20, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

A correctional officer at Eastern Regional Jail testified Tuesday that David Eugene Munday said he shot a state trooper in October because he wanted police to kill him.

"He actually used the term 'cop-assisted suicide,'" said Correctional Officer Michael Scott Trail Sr.

Trail was one of 15 witnesses who testified during a pretrial hearing before Circuit Judge David Sanders. Munday's trial is set to begin with jury selection on Oct. 21.

He is charged with one count of malicious wounding of a police officer and four counts of attempted murder.

The purpose of Tuesday's hearing was to determine whether statements Munday made in the hours and days after the shooting should be made known to the jury. Another hearing is scheduled for next week to deal with phone conversations Munday had while in Eastern Regional Jail. Those conversations were recorded.

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Sanders withheld making a ruling on the admissibility of the statements until after that follow-up hearing.

Munday, 38, of Hedgesville, W.Va., is charged with shooting West Virginia State Police Trooper R.J. "Bobby" Elswick once in the head on the night of Oct. 10, 2002. The shooting happened outside in the rain, near a wooded area on Harper Lane in Hedgesville.

Elswick and three other troopers went to that area to handle a possible hostage situation involving Munday. Munday also is charged in connection with that incident.

Elswick, sitting in a wheelchair and surrounded by family and friends, attended part of the pretrial hearing.

One of the witnesses called to the stand was Christina Golden, who previously worked as a nurse at the jail. She testified that as she changed the bandages on Munday's wounds - he was hit by shotgun pellets in the arm and legs during a gunfire exchange with the troopers - Munday talked to her about the shooting.

"He said ... he wished they'd shot him in the head and that's why he'd shot at them, to end it all," Golden testified.

Clad in jail-issue orange clothes and shackled at his wrists and ankles, Munday sat and watched all of the testimony. After a private conversation with his attorneys, Margaret Gordon and Robert Barrat, Munday decided not to testify.

While cross-examining state troopers who took the stand, Gordon intimated that Munday may not have fired the first shot that night. The troopers have maintained that they returned fire after Munday fired one shot in their direction, a shot that hit Elswick.

In their written statements, neither Troopers John Droppleman nor Robert Copson mentioned that Munday fired first, Gordon said.

Both of the troopers countered that they wrote the statements within an hour of their good friend being critically wounded and were upset.

The fifth person to testify was Jack Hockman, who retired as a lieutenant in December after working for 26 years with the state police.

Hockman testified that he went to City Hospital that October night after he learned of the shooting. When medics brought in Munday, Hockman asked them "Is that the (one) that did it?" he said.

Munday, laying on the gurney, yelled back, "Yes, I'm the (one) who did it," Hockman testified.

Laurie Barron, an emergency medical technician with the Hedgesville Volunteer Fire Department, testified that she was part of the ambulance crew that took Munday to City Hospital. Munday told her that he'd watched the officers through the scope of his gun, but he denied firing it, she said.

Shortly after Sgt. Scott Richmond, with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, took the stand, a videotape was played. Richmond, who transported Munday from the hospital to the jail a couple of hours after the shooting, said he turned on his in-car camera and microphone in case Munday "blurted out" anything during the ride.

On the tape, Munday, who can be heard but not seen, discussed the shooting during most of the car ride. Some of his statements were difficult to hear because of police radio traffic also audible inside the car.

Portions that could be heard included Munday saying, "I did not shoot that cop. You got me believing I did."

He also said he only had a little "squirrel gun."

"I did not shoot that gun at no cop," he said. "I wanted to shoot but I didn't."

In the recorded phone conversations from Eastern Regional Jail, Munday alternated between denying any involvement and admitting to it, Games-Neely said.

"He tries to invent a defense as he goes along," she said.

Munday was moved from Eastern Regional Jail and is being held without bond in Potomac Highlands Regional Jail in Romney, W.Va.

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