The Richmond Register

February 12, 2013

Defendant weeps as attorney recounts his asking police to kill him

Had doused himself and girlfriend’s home in gasoline

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

MADISON COUNTY — The trial of a Richmond man accused of soaking his girlfriend’s house in gasoline, destroying her belongings and menacing police officers with knives began Monday in Madison Circuit Court.

Wayne Irvine, 51, faces six counts in connection with an incident last year on Fairview Court:

• Attempted second-degree arson

• First-degree criminal mischief

• Two counts of menacing

• Violation of a domestic violence order

• Second-degree disorderly conduct..

The most serious charge is attempted arson, a Class C felony that carries a possible sentence of five to 10 years in prison.

In his opening statement, public advocate Brian Barker painted Irvine as an ill and troubled man making a desperate cry for help.

Irvine openly wept as Barker described how his client had begged Richmond police officers to shoot and kill him that day. Barker told the jury that Irvine suffers from diabetes and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Was he breaking the law or just breaking down?” Barker asked.

However, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Smith told the jury that Irvine was an angry, verbally abusive partner who is still responsible for his actions regardless of his possible mental instability.

Although Irvine’s girlfriend, Melissa Bowling, had let him back into her home, he was still in violation of a November 2011 domestic violence order forbidding him to have contact with her, Smith pointed out.

“You’re going to learn he was in a place he shouldn’t have been, doing something he shouldn’t have been doing,” Smith said. “He got himself in a world of trouble.”



Witness testimony

The first witness, RPD Officer Zachary Harris, testified about what happened at the Bowling home on April 17.

Bowling was at work in Frankfort when she called 911 and asked an officer to do a welfare check on Irvine. Harris went to the house but was unable to find anyone there, he testified.

Later that day, at 7:14 p.m., a 911 dispatcher received another call from Bowling. She said Irvine was threatening to kill her.

Harris went back to the Fairview Court home with Officer Lydia Douglas. When Douglas knocked on the door, Irvine opened it.

Harris was covering the back door when he heard Douglas yelling, and he ran to the front of the house to see Irvine holding up two knives while he stood in the door’s threshold.

“He appeared to be a daze,” and he was talking in unintelligible, broken sentences, Harris said. Harris drew and fired his Tazer, but Irvine managed to slam the door before both hooks made contact with his skin.

Harris said he could hear Irvine inside the home, yelling and causing a commotion. Police officers were able to talk Irvine into coming out of the home after about an hour, and when he came outside, he was covered in gasoline, Harris said.

Bowling and her daughter were not in the home during the standoff, Harris testified.

Claims adjuster Jeff Evans, who works for the company that insured Bowling’s home, testified as pictures depicting the home’s interior damage were shown to the jury.

Most of the home had to be repainted and the carpets replaced because gasoline that had been poured throughout the house, Evans said. Two computers, a TV, several pieces of furniture and a mattress had to be replaced because they were destroyed or soaked in gas.

In all, the insurance company paid Bowling nearly $14,000 to repair her home and replace her damaged belongings, Evans testified.

Testimony ended at 4:45 p.m. Monday and is scheduled to resume today at 9 a.m. The trial is expected to last two days, according to Logue.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com

or at 624-6694.