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Roger Burdette could be 90 when he gets out of prison

Roger Burdette (Photo: WAVE 3 News)
Roger Burdette (Photo: WAVE 3 News)
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 12:16 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The former Metropolitan Sewer District driver who was found guilty of wanton murder in the death of LMPD Detective Deidre Mengedoht on Christmas Eve 2018 will remain on home incarceration until his sentencing.

After three hours of deliberation, the jury returned the guilty verdicts around 8 p.m. Tuesday. In addition to murder, Roger Burdette, 63, was convicted on four counts of wanton endangerment first degree, and single counts of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants and failure to give right of way to stopped emergency vehicle. The wanton endangerment charges involve the four people in the pickup truck which Mengedoht had stopped before the crash.

DUI and wanton endangerment convictions usually result in a sentence of one to five years in prison. Those charges would run simultaneously with, or at the same time as, the murder sentence.

The maximum sentence for murder is life in prison.

The jury recommended a sentence of 27 years in prison. The judge cannot exceed the amount of time recommended by the jury.

In Kentucky, a person must serve at least 85% of their sentence if convicted of murder before they see a parole board. Burdette would get credit for the two years and 10 months since his arrest on Dec. 24th, 2018.

At 63 years old, if he gets the 27 years to serve as the jury recommended, he wouldn’t get out of jail until he is 83. If parole is denied, Burdette could be 90 when he is released.

Burdette had been accused of driving under the influence of Hydrocodone and Clonazepam, both controlled substances for which he did not have prescriptions for. He was also accused of watching a pornographic video on his cell phone when the fiery crash happened.

Prosecutors presented testimony from experts who said there were no skid marks on the pavement or signs that Burdette had tried to slow down. Information from the airbags in Mengedoht’s vehicle showed the impact was received at 49.7 miles per hour.

Det. Deidre Mengedoht
Det. Deidre Mengedoht

The crash happened on Interstate 64 eastbound under the Belvedere. According to testimony, Burdette’s vehicle slammed into the unmarked 2015 Ford Taurus, crunching the back seats and rupturing the gas tank, which immediately caught fire.

Mengedoht’s official cause of death included smoke inhalation, blunt force trauma and burns, the coroner’s office confirmed.

Although there was no body camera or dash cam video of Burdette’s sobriety test, the officer who conducted it said Burdette had failed to keep his foot above the ground as instructed, and that his pupils were showing signs of impairment.

The defense argued the blood samples showed minimal amounts of the drugs, and that Burdette had the pornographic video on, but was not watching it at the time. The defense presented testimony from an accident reconstruction expert who said the position of Mengedoht’s car under the Belvedere made it impossible to see and that the curve of the road also affected Burdette’s ability to know her car was there.

Mengedoht, 32, was on her way home to see her young son for the holiday when she pulled over a pickup truck for speeding.

Her sister, Ashley Lewis, wanted the jurors to know more about the type of person she was.

“She was just one of those really good people,” Lewis said. “That’s why this was so hard.”

A civil lawsuit has been settled for a total of nearly $14 million.

Burdette’s family declined an interview after Tuesday’s hearing, but his daughter, Lauren Burdette, spoke about her family’s love for him in the courtroom.

“My family’s being torn apart,” she told the jurors. “I would ask you to consider our family as well.”

She testified that he is a great dad, who loves his family and cared for his sick mother. She added he is a hard worker who never lies.

On Saturday, Lauren Burdette said her father talked to her about the trial’s possible outcome.

“Rather than thinking about himself,” she said, “his number one priority was he wanted to make sure that I told everyone who came here to support him, ‘Thank you.’”

Burdette, who has been on home incarceration since being arrested, was allowed to remain on the bond condition until his sentencing, which is scheduled for Dec. 17.

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