LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A judge on Wednesday issued his verdict in the bench trial of an 81-year-old man who shot an Indiana State Police trooper in 2017.
Senior Judge Steven Fleece ruled Oscar Kays guilty of attempted murder and resisting arrest but ruled him not guilty of aggravated battery.
Kays shot Indiana State Police Trooper Morgenn Evans in the head after being pulled over on suspected intoxication in 2017.
Wednesday, a crime-scene investigator testified about the conditions of both Kays’ and Evans’ cars following the shooting. Also, a nurse from the Clark County Jail told the judge that Kays had issues with his health, including his diabetes, which caused him to hallucinate sometimes and also led to him being hospitalized more than once.
Trooper Evans had testified Tuesday, telling the judge he thought he was going to die.
Attorneys presented their closing arguments Wednesday following the final testimony from witnesses.
Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said the natural inclination would be to be compassionate to Kays, but emphasized that he targeted and shot Trooper Evans specifically because he was an ISP officer, WAVE 3 News’ Rachael Krause reported.
“This was an Indiana State Trooper who was targeted simply because he was a member of the state police," Mull said. "There are many people that are resentful at the state police enforcing operating while intoxicated laws, but they’re saving a lot of lives by doing that. And when they’re targeted for doing that, I’m going to go after those individuals and get the toughest convictions and sentence that I can.”
Mull also said common sense shows that being shot in the head is a substantial risk of death, meaning the charge of attempted murder should be upheld.
“Trooper Evans is very pleased," he said. "All along, from the beginning, he has been of the opinion that this should constitute the crime of attempted murder. He was shot in the head, and by the grace of God he would have died from this wound.”
But Kays’ defense attorney, Brian Butler, said in his closing statement that Kays did not intend to kill Evans, that his motive behind the shooting was to go home, not kill a law-enforcement officer.
“Oscar acted under dementia and mental illness, and we got that," he said. "I think that’s important because it differentiates why this happened, and it was not just an evil man that had a desire to murder a state trooper. This was a man that had lived a very good life and tragically, things have deteriorated mentally for him which led to an awful situation and terrible event for the trooper.”
Butler also said Evans “used more force than he should have” during the traffic stop.
Fleece deliberated for nearly three hours before announcing his ruling just before 3:45 p.m.
Kays will be formally sentenced Dec. 12.