SCOTTSVILLE — A trial date for Timothy Madden, the man accused of kidnapping, raping and killing 7-year-old Gabbi Doolin in November 2015, has been set.
Madden appeared in Allen County Circuit Court on Thursday for a pretrial conference, during which a motion filed by Allen County Commonwealth's Attorney Clint Willis to set the case for trial was granted by Judge Janet Crocker. The trial is scheduled to take place in February 2018.
Doolin's body was found in a creek soon after she disappeared from a football game at Allen County-Scottsville High School.
Madden was arrested nearly a week after her body was found and indicted in the case in December 2015.
A spokesperson for Doolin's family, Lori Doolin Wilson, spoke to media representatives after the court proceeding and said the family is relieved to have “a projected trial date” and it is something the family has been waiting to happen for a long time.
“At least having a projected trial date gives you a sense that something is moving forward,” she said.
It is possible the date could change, pending the location of the trial.
A motion for a change of venue filed by defense attorney Travis Lock was also granted by Crocker, and means the location of the trial will not be Allen County.
The case has received extensive media coverage from several news outlets, including newspaper coverage, as well as radio and television broadcasts.
Crocker stated during the court proceeding that supporting documents in favor of the motion and a survey conducted of random Allen County residents indicated a change of venue is necessary in order for Madden to receive a fair trial.
Only the location of the trial will change. All of the pretrial process will continue to occur in Allen County.
The trial could take place in an adjoining county, but the exact location has not yet been chosen.
Lock is opposed to the trial occurring in an adjacent county.
When questioned by media representatives after the pretrial conference about his opposition to it being in an adjacent county, he said, “I think that's a pretty simple answer to give. You know southcentral Kentucky is a close and tight-knit region. The county lines don't necessarily divide the citizens and the people that make up our community.”
He continued that while people may live in Simpson, Allen or Barren counties, they regularly go to Bowling Green to dine and to shop, therefore he believes his client would not get a fair trial if it took place in an adjacent county.
“I believe this defendant deserves a trial in an area, in a venue that is outside of this close-knit region,” he said.
Crocker agreed to give Lock an additional 60 days to address his opposition to moving the trial to an adjacent county and she gave Willis 30 days in which to file a response. During that time, Lock will conduct a second survey to determine whether or not any bias exists among residents living in adjacent counties regarding the case.
After the court proceeding, when asked about a second survey being conducted, Lock said he couldn't speak with any confidence what the second survey might yield.
“The professionals that we have contracted with to prepare these surveys have expressed some level of confidence that a similar survey would yield similar results, but I don't think anyone can say what a given respondent in a survey when someone gets you on the telephone and asks you questions about something, I don't think anybody can necessarily predict what folks are going to say,” he said. “Obviously, with every day that goes by this case continues to be publicized. The media continues to do its job by giving the information to the general public.”
Wilson said her family is not concerned where the trial occurs.
“We just want justice served, so whatever county that they decide to have it in we just want justice served,” she said. “If it's not best for Allen County, we just hope they figure out what county that would be best and move forward quickly.”
Lock was asked whether or not he thought the case would be ready for trial in February 2018, and he said “no chance.”
He also said he could not say whether or not he will file a motion for the case to be continued.
Lock pointed out that there are certain things in a capital case such as this one that are constitutionally required, such as mitigation evidentiary, which requires a tremendous amount of work to prepare.
“I can't emphasize how important it is that a meaningful review of the DNA evidence be conducted by an independent, outside laboratory on behalf of the defense,” he said. “That is a critical component of the defense. Otherwise the defendant is deprived of the ability to confront and cross examine the evidence against him.”
Lock filed a motion to suppress DNA samples taken using buccal swabs and clothing from Madden without a warrant.
During the pretrial conference, three troopers with the Kentucky State Police testified about the process in which the samples and clothing were collected as evidence, as well as Madden's reaction to their questions regarding a substance that appeared to be blood-like on the clothing.
There was also testimony from the troopers regarding how they came to question Madden in connection with the homicide and whether or not he was the only person of interest in the case.
State Police Capt. Tim Adams, who is now state police post commander in Madisonville, testified Madden was very compliant and “never gave any backlash whatsoever.”
He also testified that when he arrived at the football game he and other state troopers asked everyone at the ball field where the game was taking place to go to the nearby school's gym.
Adams said he spoke with several people who gave him a description of a man fitting Madden's and that some even mentioned Madden by name.
He also stated he knew Madden was at the game because he saw him on a video leaving the gym.
Crocker overruled the motion to suppress.
Lock also filed a motion asking for additional electronic forensic information, which he said he has yet to receive from Willis.
Willis stated during the court proceeding that he contacted the state police lab regarding Lock's request and got a response on Thursday, but he wasn't sure he got a complete response.
After the pretrial conference, Lock told media representatives that he was “ ... very discouraged by the fact the commonwealth has had almost two years to produce the electronic data from the DNA forensic testing that was conducted and to date has yet to produce (it)."
Lock was given less than six months to conduct his own analysis of the DNA forensic evidence that he said Willis has taken almost two years to review.
“We have less than six months to conduct the same review,” he said. “That is unbelievably discouraging.”
Wilson was asked after the court proceeding what she wanted people to know about Doolin. She said the little girl was wonderful and that " ... her life was taken away too soon." She also said Doolin comes from an amazing family and has parents who loved her and are good Christian people.
A date for a status review of the case was set for Sept. 27 concerning the progress of the change of venue and other documents that have been requested.