Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Alleged Murderer Was "Too High"' To Remember Murdering Cabbie

Man Admits To Smoking Crack At Local Crackhouse Just Prior To Murder
Re-printed from a story at Kentucky.com on March 30th 2011
John D. Cherry Jr.LEXINGTON - John D. Cherry Jr. told police he was too intoxicated to remember everything that happened on the day a Lexington cab driver was killed, a detective testified Wednesday.

"He remembered trying to leave the cab without paying," Lexington police Detective Robert Wilson said. Cherry also said he remembered shooting a .38 caliber handgun, the detective said. Cherry did not admit to killing Amine Lemghaili, 28, on March 20.

Wilson, whose testimony came during a preliminary hearing in Fayette District Court, said Cherry was at a friend's home on Accord Drive in Lexington after leaving a bar that night. Cherry called a cab to pick him up from the friend's home, Wilson said. He said Cherry had friends in the Woodhill neighborhood.

Cherry had been using alcohol, cocaine and prescription drugs that night, the detective said.

Witnesses told police they heard a single gunshot about 3:30 a.m., Wilson said. Lemghaili's body wasn't found until several hours later, and he had been shot once in the head.

Cherry, 29, hunched in his chair and shook his head as Wilson testified. Lemghaili's wife, Rachael Ratliff, sitting on a bench near the front of the courtroom, cried when the detective said her husband's name.

Public defender Erica Roland asked several questions in court regarding how Cherry was acting on March 20th and his use of drugs and alcohol.

In addition to the murder charge, Cherry faces charges in an unrelated case that stem from a bizarre altercation that unfolded more than two hours before police found Lemghaili's body about 10:30 a.m. in his cab in the parking lot of Hedgewood Court.

Police had arrested Cherry at 8:22 a.m. after a man reported seeing Cherry point a gun at a woman at 313 West New Circle Road, according to police reports.

After pointing the gun at the woman, Cherry then got into the witness's vehicle and asked him for a ride to Wal-Mart at 500 West New Circle, according to the police report.

Police found Cherry walking from Wal-Mart into the McDonald's parking lot nearby. Officers ordered him to the ground. He refused to lie down, but he told police he had a gun. He pulled the gun from his waistband and dropped it on the pavement.

Rachael Ratliff, Amine Lemghaili and their daughter
Rachael Ratliff, murder victim Amine Lemghaili and their young daughter, Layla.

In that case, Cherry is charged with first-degree unlawful imprisonment, carrying a concealed deadly weapon, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, receiving stolen property, trafficking in marijuana, trafficking in a controlled substance and possessing prescription drugs not in their original container.

Cherry, who was being held at the Fayette County jail, was charged with murder last Friday.

Investigators have said there was no apparent relationship between Cherry and Lemghaili. They said Lemghaili had picked up Cherry in another part of Lexington and was dropping him off at the townhouse complex before the shooting.

Police had been able to trace the route Lemghaili had driven before the fatal stop.

After listening to testimony, Fayette District Judge T. Bruce Bell found probable cause to send both cases to a grand jury.

Ratliff, Lemghaili's wife, declined to comment afterward.

Roland said Cherry had been dealing with a crisis, but she would not elaborate.

"He didn't handle this crisis in a way a reasonable person would," Roland said.

Roland said Cherry had expressed remorse for his behavior.

"He and his family are keeping the Lemghaili family in their prayers," Roland said.

References:
Kentucky.com, Grand Jury To Hear Lexington Cab Driver Murder Case
Lex 18.com, Grand Jury To Murder Cab Drive Murder