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Munday will face life term

January 09, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

After deliberating for half an hour, jurors found Thursday that the man convicted of wounding a West Virginia State Police trooper was the same person convicted of several prior charges.

That finding means that under the state's "three strikes" law, David Eugene Munday will be sentenced to serve life in prison.

Munday, 38, of Hedgesville, W.Va., showed no reaction as Circuit Judge David Sanders read aloud the verdict.

In October, Munday was found guilty of 21 charges related to the shooting of West Virginia State Police Trooper R.J. "Bobby" Elswick.

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The life sentence must be granted with mercy. Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely could not say when Munday might be eligible for parole.

The recidivist, or three strikes, trial was based upon Munday's conviction on a charge of unlawful assault of a police officer. Munday will be sentenced separately on the other 20 charges on which he was convicted in October.

With the verdict, the eight women and four men on the jury agreed that the state proved Munday was the same person convicted of prior charges in Maryland.

After the verdict, Games-Neely elaborated on why she wanted to obtain a recidivist conviction.

"This (Munday) was a person who had a problem with authority," she said.

What angered Games-Neely the most, she said, was the fact that Elswick was shot in the head as he was trying to help people believed to be involved in a hostage situation. Elswick is recovering from the wound.

"It was a green uniform. There was no reason for it," she said.

Defense attorney Margaret Gordon said afterward that the October convictions and the outcome of Thursday's trial will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Gordon commended the work of the jurors and Games-Neely.

"These are really difficult cases to win," she said. If the state has its paperwork in order regarding the past convictions, "there's not a whole lot that you can do," she said.

Jurors reached their verdict at around 4:12 p.m., more than seven hours after reporting for jury selection for the one-day trial.

After jury selection, which took most of the morning, and a break for lunch, seven witnesses testified within one hour. All of the witnesses were called by Games-Neely. Defense attorneys Gordon and Robert Barrat did not call any witnesses, and Munday did not testify.

Stephen C. King, head of the latent print section of the West Virginia State Police Crime Lab, was on the stand for the longest period of time.

After giving the jurors a crash course in the science of fingerprints and fingerprinting, King explained how he examined three different sets of fingerprints purported to belong to Munday.

One was a set of prints submitted by Munday before his 1989 conviction in Frederick County, Md., on charges of wearing and carrying a dangerous and deadly weapon, and assault and battery. A second was submitted by Munday before his 2000 conviction, also in Frederick County, on a charge of second-degree assault.

The third was submitted by Munday before his 2003 conviction related to the shooting of Elswick.

All of the prints were Munday's, King said.

Games-Neely showed the jury docket sheets from Frederick County that showed David Munday was convicted of the offenses and sentenced to serve time in a penitentiary. The three strikes law requires that a person must have been convicted of crimes that carry penitentiary sentences.

In her closing argument, Gordon said that the state did not prove all of the documents were definitively linked to Munday. The docket sheets only listed the name David Munday, not a Social Security number or date of birth.

"How many David E. Mundays or David Mundays are there?" she asked.

Identity is not easily proven, said Gordon, who ended her closing argument by telling a story. At the turn of the 20th century, a look-a-like contest was held for silent film star Charlie Chaplin.

She asked the jurors to guess which contestant was not picked as the person who most resembled the actor.

"Charlie Chaplin?" asked one juror.

Right, Gordon said.

Aside from King, most of the state's witnesses were on the stand only for a few minutes. Several pointed to Munday and identified him, while others testified about how various records and fingerprints were obtained.

"This is what we call a paper trail case," Games-Neely told the jurors. "You are not to decide guilt, innocence, whether you agree with the law or disagree with the law."

Jurors did not hear any facts about the shooting of Elswick or the two Maryland cases.

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

Munday's sentencing date has not been set.

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