McCreary County Shooting

McCreary County shooting arrestA young man was found with gunshot wounds in a McCreary County shooting.  After being transported to the Wayne County hospital, he later died.  Police later arrested a man who’s been charged with murder in the case.  He’s being held at the Leslie County Detention Center.

According to the available news reports, the man was found in a house near Monticello.  It’s possible he was coherent enough to describe what happened.  However, as a Louisville criminal defense attorney who handles murder cases, let me caution that this is only one side of the story.  There’s no information regarding other witnesses who may have been present and who might corroborate the victim’s statements.

Additionally, while the man who allegedly committed the McCreary County shooting has been charged with murder, these charges might not be what he’s ultimately convicted of, if he’s convicted at all.

There’s obviously enough evidence for police to make the arrest, but as in any Kentucky criminal trial, this is only the beginning.  A murder trial can take months for both sides to properly investigate and prepare.  Forensic labs need time to examine the evidence and publish reports.  Witnesses need to be interviewed.  Social media pages will be reviewed for possible information.  This investigation produces an amazing amount of information.  As a criminal defense attorney, I look for any shred of exculpatory evidence.

What’s Exculpatory Evidence?

When a piece of evidence (e.g. a lab report, a video tape, documents, recorded conversation, etc.) is found and it could be used to prove the defendant is innocent, this is called “exculpatory evidence.”   Whenever this type of information comes to any prosecutor’s attention, that prosecutor is obligated to share this evidence and make it available to the defense attorney.

A key part of our legal system requires the prosecution to turn over any and all forms of exculpatory evidence, no matter how damaging it may be to the charges and ultimately, to their case.

A foundation of our system of justice is that an individual is innocent until proven guilty.  When discovered, exculpatory evidence can be used by the defense attorney to argue that the charges aren’t justified.  For instance, in this McCreary County shooting, the defendant may not have intended to shoot the victim.  It’s possible an argument escalated and “in the heat of the moment” it happened.  It’s possible the shooting was in self-defense.  It’s also possible another person actually committed the crime and the defendant will later be found innocent.

As I’ve explained in previous posts, there’s a likely chance that the murder charge will be reduced to manslaughter or some lesser offense, if the evidence doesn’t ultimately support the claim that the shooting was done with criminal intent.

When police, investigators and prosecutors move too quickly to make an arrest, exculpatory evidence can slowly unravel the case.  As some point, it’s even possible the defendant will have a case against the authorities for the false charges and possible damage to his reputation.

Either way, this murder case is going to take a while to move through the justice system.  An experienced criminal defense attorney knows it’s always best to be patient and methodical.  Look for an opening and then do your best to drive a truck straight through it.  It’s difficult for the prosecution to railroad a defendant when there’s a defense attorney, with a big rig, standing on the tracks.