Defense attorney says murder charge should be lowered

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VERSAILLES, Ky. (WKYT) - Vernon Saunders' defense attorney argued that there wasn't enough evidence for probable cause for a murder charge in this case, arguing instead that it should be changed to manslaughter 2nd.

A detective with the Versailles Police Department testified that Vernon Saunders told him he shot an intruder three times in his kitchen, then tied the body to a truck and dragged it down the road. He said Saunders repeatedly told him he didn't recognize the man he called an intruder. Police later identified the body as Timmothy Saunders, Vernon Saunders' brother. The detective also said Timmothy Saunders had been staying with his brother Vernon and another man. The third man told police he left the house around 1AM the day of the incident and that Vernon and Timmothy Saunders were "having a good time" and laughing in the kitchen. The detective said he smelled alcohol on Saunders when he interviewed him several hours after Timmothy was found dead. Saunders' defense attorney said, for the purpose of probable cause, the odor of alcohol could indicate that Saunders was so intoxicated at the time of the incident that he didn't realize the man was his brother. He urged the judge to lower the charge from murder to manslaughter.

"Voluntary intoxication is evidence of wantonness, not of intent. It's evidence of manslaughter second-degree, not murder," said defense attorney Casey Holland.

The judge overruled that motion, the murder charge will stay for now. Family members in the courtroom said the believed the incident was a "horrible accident".

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