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Munday guilty in trooper shooting

October 31, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Martinsburg, W.Va. - After deliberating for 10 hours over three days, jurors in Berkeley County found David Eugene Munday guilty Thursday of 21 of 25 charges related to the shooting of a West Virginia State Police trooper and the events that led up to it.

"Justice was served and hopefully he'll get a life sentence," said Terri Elswick, the wife of Trooper R.J. "Bobby" Elswick, who was shot on Oct. 10, 2002.

Standing outside the courtroom, R.J. Elswick also discussed the verdict and said Munday got what he deserved.

"He can't hurt anybody else," Elswick said.

Jurors found Munday guilty of three counts of burglary, five counts of wanton endangerment with a firearm, one count of unlawful assault of a police officer, four counts of attempted second-degree murder, two counts of brandishing a firearm, three counts of discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, one count of assault, one count of destruction of property and one count of fleeing from an officer on foot.

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He was found innocent of three counts of kidnapping and one count of domestic battery.

The jurors, seven women and five men, rang a buzzer at 11:21 a.m. indicating they had reached a verdict.

Munday, 38, of Hedgesville, W.Va., sat and stared at jurors as they sat down, then stood while a clerk read aloud the verdict. He closed his eyes and shook his head slightly at one point but otherwise showed no visible emotion.

When Circuit Judge David Sanders pronounced Munday formally convicted of the 21 charges, Munday nodded. Thirteen of the 21 charges are felonies, while the rest are misdemeanors.

Sanders thanked the jurors for their service and told them nobody should attempt to contact them about the case. If someone does, Sanders advised the jurors not to speak about the case or what was discussed during deliberations.

Afterward, as jurors left the courthouse through a side door, Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely hugged Elswick.

She told him she was disappointed the jury chose to find Munday guilty of unlawful assault of a police officer rather than malicious assault, a more serious charge that the jury also considered.

Elswick then thanked Games-Neely, she recalled later. "We owe him thanks. He doesn't owe me anything," she said.

Along with finding Munday guilty of the less serious charge regarding the shooting of Elswick, jurors also found him guilty of four counts of attempted second-degree murder, rather than four counts of attempted first-degree murder. First-degree requires premeditation, while second-degree does not.

Because Munday has been convicted in Maryland of two felonies, Games-Neely said she intends to seek a life sentence under the "three strikes" law. That will require a separate jury trial and testimony from the officers in Maryland who previously arrested Munday.

Games-Neely said she was a bit nervous as she awaited the jury's decision. The jury asked several questions throughout deliberations and had one state trooper's testimony read back on Thursday morning.

"This is for every guy who's ever worn a badge and every woman who's ever worn a badge" and who put their lives on the line every day, Games-Neely said later.

Although the jury's decision cannot erase her husband's injury, Terri Elswick said she was relieved the trial was over. She said she is debating whether to address Munday at his sentencing hearing, scheduled for Jan. 5.

Visibly upset after the trial, Margaret Gordon, one of Munday's two defense attorneys, said it was too early to say whether the verdict would be appealed.

Gordon said the jury should be commended for its work, and she sent her best wishes to Elswick and his family.

Elswick was shot once above his left ear as he and three other troopers converged on Harper Lane in Hedgesville to handle a call for a possible hostage situation.

The kidnapping charges stemmed from allegations that Munday held his neighbors - Johnny and Sandra Lambert and their 14-year-old daughter - hostage at gunpoint inside their mobile home. Citing the fact that a child was involved, Games-Neely said she was a little disappointed jurors found Munday innocent of those charges.

She speculated that the jury may have merged the kidnapping charges into the related burglary counts, of which Munday was found guilty.

The domestic battery charge stemmed from allegations that Munday slapped his girlfriend that October day.

Munday still faces two separate charges involving allegations that he tried to bribe the Lamberts into either leaving the state or changing their testimony. That case could go to trial.

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