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Defense tries new tactic in David Dooley retrial

Posted: 5:35 PM, Feb 19, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-20 18:17:14-05
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BURLINGTON, Ky. — Who killed Michelle Mockbee?

Testimony in David Dooley's retrial for Mockbee's death began Wednesday, but Dooley's attorney said it wasn't him and offered several other people as possible suspects. However, prosecutors said it couldn't be anyone but Dooley.

Opening arguments Wednesday showed a different approach for Dooley's defense. When he was previously convicted in 2014 of killing Mockbee, the argument was that there was no evidence and no real motive. Now they're taking the approach that there were plenty of other people who could have killed Mockbee.

"They said that David Dooley had the opportunity to do it. Of course he did," defense attorney Deanna Dennison said. "He had the opportinity to do it because he's walking around the building doing his janitorial duties, but there are other people in that warehouse, that also had the opportunity to do it too, that were completely ignored."

A judge tossed Dooley's conviction and granted a retrial in 2017 after a piece of surveillance video surfaced showing an unidentified man in the parking lot next door to the murder scene the night before Mockbee was killed. Dooley's defense team claimed they never received that video. The commonwealth's attorney's office said they never intentionally withheld it.

The defense has laid the groundwork to raise questions about other employees at Thermo Fisher Scientific, as well as Mockbee's husband, Dan.

"Let's talk about Dan Mockbee," Dennison said. "No alibi, ladies and gentlemen. 'I was sleeping.' No alibi."

Mockbee was found dead — beaten, wrists slit, a plastic bag around her head — in May 2012 outside her office in the warehouse. Dooley was a janitor there that morning.

Prosecutors have argued that Dooley did it because Mockbee, the building's HR officer, caught him triple dipping his and his wife's timecards. The defense admits the timecard scheme happened, but said it wasn't worth murder.

The murder weapon has never been found, and prosecutors pointed to video of Dooley's truck leaving as proof of what happened to it. Prosecutors say that makes Dooley the only suspect.

"Items used in the murder of Michelle Mockbee were taken from the scene and never recovered," Kentucky Assistant Attorney General Jon Heck said. "Whoever did it would have had blood on them, on their clothes and on their boots, and had to change. Only one person left, only one person had motive. That was David Dooley."

Dan Mockbee has been subpoenaed for the case and could be called as a witness. Dennison said he got nearly $1 million in insurance and other payouts after Michelle's death.

"You're going to hear they weren't great with money," Heck said. "Dan's still not great with money. But I think you're going to be satisfied that he was not there. He did not go to the place where he works and beat his wife."

Jurors saw graphic photos of the scene Wednesday. The commonwealth started its case from the very beginning with a focus on the investigation. Three investigators took the stand.

In his opening statement, Heck told the jury they will likely visit the scene of the murder at Thermo Fisher at some point during this trial.

The trial is set to continue Thursday morning at the Boone County Courthouse.