Jury recommends 27-year sentence for Roger Burdette, found guilty in murder trial of LMPD detective
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A jury recommends a 27-year sentence for the man charged in the death of a Louisville Metro Police Department detective who died in a crash on Christmas Eve 2018.
Roger Burdette, the driver of the MSD truck who slammed into LMPD detective Deidre Mengedoht’s vehicle, was found guilty on all counts in a unanimous decision by the jury on Tuesday night.
Burdette was found guilty of murder, four counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, and failure to give right of way to a stopped emergency vehicle.
The 27-year sentence for Burdette’s murder charge will be served concurrently with five year sentences for Burdette’s wanton endangerment charges.
Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine released a statement saying the four wanton endangerment charges were filed as the crash threatened death or serious injury to the four occupants of the car which Mengedoht had stopped.
Tuesday marks the fifth day of testimonies which included the officers who investigated the crash, the people who were in the vehicle that was pulled over, and a cyber expert who testified Burdette had a pornographic video playing on his phone during the time of the crash.
The pornographic video was playing between the times of 2:12 and 2:20 p.m. The crash, experts testified, happened at 2:17 in the afternoon.
Officer Dean Kisling of the LMPD Traffic Unit told jurors Burdette’s truck never seemed to slow down given there were no skid marks from the MSD truck on the road. He said the information retrieved from Mengedoht’s airbags showed her vehicle was impacted at 49.7 miles per hour.
Tuesday, the prosecution questioned Kisling about Mengedoht’s vehicle, an unmarked 2015 Ford Taurus. Her vehicle was not what’s known as a police-packaged car. Such a vehicle would have contained a number of additional safety features including rear-impact fortifications designed for impacts of up to 75 miles per hour, according to the Ford Interceptor’s specs.
Because Mengedoht’s vehicle was unmarked, it did not have the standard external blue and red emergency light bar that marked police vehicles do.
The prosecution called their last witness Friday.
Burdette’s defense attorneys wanted the jury to believe the crash was just an accident, and that anyone could have fatally crashed into Mengedoht’s car that Christmas Eve.
They pointed to her car being nearly invisible under the overpass because of the road’s curve, according to James Stephen Sobek, a reconstruction and light expert.
“The sun was not able to illuminate anywhere in there and it was really quite dark,” he said.
Amy Hanna, Burdette’s attorney said there wasn’t any proof to support the accusation that Burdette was impaired by pills. They listed that his blood was taken hours after the crash, the prosecution’s doctor who said he thought the pills might have been taken the day before, and the lack of body camera or dash camera video of Burdette’s sobriety test.
The defense introduced Chris Mattingly, a Louisville Metro EMT who evaluated Burdette at the scene. He said his pupils looked normal, and he was not slurring or swaying.
“To me, he was behaving appropriately for a person in his situation,” Mattingly testified.
As for the claim Burdette was watching pornography when he crashed, the defense claimed he may have had the video on, but that doesn’t mean he was actually watching it before the crash.
“There is a huge difference,” Hanna said. “Sometimes accidents are just that and sometimes there aren’t answers that anybody wants.”
Prosecutor Kristi Gray wrapped up their case by saying there are answers as to why Mengedoht lost her life that day; the decisions Burdette made while driving.
“I can tell you why and how Diedre Mengedoht is dead, because of his choices,” Gray said.
The jury began deliberating shortly after 5 p.m.
Penalty phase of the trial will begin Tuesday night.
LMPD released a statement following the jury’s verdict:
“The tragic loss of Detective Deidre Mengedoht is something forever etched in the history of the Louisville Metro Police Department. Today, an individual was held accountable for her death. We are grateful for the hard work and dedication by our investigators and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office in both the preparation and successful prosecution of this case. May this help bring a sense of closure and peace to an incredibly difficult loss for LMPD, the family and friends of Deidre Mengedoht and the community. We will never forget your sacrifice, Detective Deidre Mengedoht.”
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