I-Team: Commonwealth attorney calls says investigation of her conduct is 'motivated by politics'

Linda Tally-Smith won't prosecute Dooley retrial
Posted at 2:27 PM, Jul 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-04 22:29:29-04

BURLINGTON, Ky. -- The Kentucky attorney general's office will maintain control of the David Dooley retrial, and a special prosecutor has been appointed to look into the actions of the commonwealth attorney who originally tried the case.

That attorney, Linda Tally-Smith, called the appointment an action "motivated by politics and (Boone County Attorney David Neace's) own self interests" in a statement Tuesday night.

Shane Young (photo by News-Enterprise)

The Office of Attorney General appointed Shane Young, the commonwealth attorney for the judicial circuit covering Hardin County, as a special prosecutor to examine Tally-Smith's conduct, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Michael Wright wrote in a letter last month.

That letter and others were obtained through a public records request filed by the 9 On Your Side I-Team.

Tally-Smith was the prosecutor in the trial of David Dooley, who is accused of killing his coworker, Michelle Mockbee, in 2012. Dooley was convicted of murder in 2014. However, a judge ruled in May that Dooley is entitled to a new trial because defense lawyers were not  told about notes from a detective or a video showing an unidentified man near the building the day before Mockbee was killed.

Wright wrote that the attorney general's office will maintain control of the Dooley retrial, meaning Tally-Smith will not be prosecuting the case when it goes back to court.

The revelation that Tally-Smith had a sexual relationship with Bruce McVay, one of the detectives on the case, also cast a pall on the first trial. McVay has since retired.

MORE: Video tape, text messages, secret affair threaten conviction in NKY murder case

Boone County Attorney Robert Neace wrote to the attorney general's office seeking a special prosecutor after the hearings in March about Dooley's retrial. A portion of Neace's letter was redacted because it includes a "preliminary recommendation or opinion that ... has not been incorporated into any final agency action."

Wright replied last month stating that Young had been appointed to the case.

"He will have independent, unfettered decision-making authority to conduct an evaluation and/or investigation and determine if Linda Tally Smith has committed any offense for which criminal charges are warranted," he wrote.

Tally-Smith remains the Boone County commonwealth attorney. She's an elected official, like the commonwealth attorney investigating her. If she is brought up on criminal charges or if the Kentucky legislature or a judiciary commission decide to take action, she could lose her position.

In a statement released Tuesday night, Tally-Smith said she would cooperate with the investigation, hoping to "put a stop to the endless barrage of baseless accusations being leveled by a handful of those with political axes to grind and/or a personal stake in the future of the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the 54th Judicial Circuit." 

She accused Neace of having a long history of mixing personal concerns with professional and repeatedly violating his own code of conduct by attempting to influence the actions of other Boone County Republicans for personal gain.

Tally-Smith also reiterated a statement she made in April, saying she acknowledged the harm her involvement with McVay had done to their families but maintained it had not negatively impacted her work or the rights of any person she prosecuted.

Read the letters and Tally-Smith's full statement below:

Special prosecutor letters by WCPO Web Team on Scribd

Linda Tally-Smith's statement on appointment of special prosecutor by WCPO Web Team on Scribd