December 13, 2000, Wednesday Metro Edition Copyright 2000 Capital City Press The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.) December 13, 2000, Wednesday Metro Edition
(ALEXANDRIA, La.) -- A Rapides Parish police juror who had drunken-driving charges against him dropped on a technicality has now been convicted.
Richard Nunnally is scheduled for sentencing Friday for his misdemeanor conviction of second-offense drunken driving.
Defense attorney Greg Gravel said Nunnally's conviction will be appealed.
Nunnally was thought to have avoided prosecution when a specially appointed judge dismissed the charge in Alexandria City Court because the police officers who were to testify, through a mix-up in communication, didn't show up in court in time to testify.
Later, the Rapides District Attorney's Office took over prosecution and brought Nunnally to trial.
On Monday, state District Judge Tom Yeager ruled that Nunnally was not driving in a safe, prudent manner and "was very much under the influence of an alcoholic beverage." Nunnally was arrested Feb. 27 on Interstate 49 by Alexandria police.
The incident began when a motorist telephoned 911. The caller said a van later found to be Nunnally's was traveling more than 90 and was "all over the road." The police officer who stopped Nunnally testified that the van was tailgating, then pulled into the left-hand lane, forcing an 18-wheeler onto the median. The officer testified that, after getting the van stopped, he had to tell Nunnally seven or eight times to get out.
Nunnally's arrest was videotaped. After at first denying drinking alcoholic beverages that night, Nunnally admitted he had been drinking. He later thanked the officers for stopping him, saying he had no business driving that night.
The videotape shows Nunnally repeatedly asking the officers what he could do to avoid arrest.
He also dropped the names of his brother, Alexandria City Prosecutor Charles Nunnally; Alexandria Mayor Ned Randolph; and Sheriff William Earl Hilton.
Richard Nunnally told the officers he could solve his legal problem by telephoning those people. But when the officers told Nunnally he could make telephone calls, he changed the subject. The videotape also shows Nunnally refusing to take either a field sobriety test or breath test.
Nunnally testified that he wasn't being truthful to police when he said on the videotape that he was in no condition to drive.
"I was trying to plead with anything I could think of because I knew what was going to happen if I got arrested," Nunnally testified. "I would have told them anything they wanted to hear. I was willing to negotiate in any type of form."Nunnally testified that his attempt to avoid arrest also was what led to the name-dropping.
"I was in a situation," Nunnally testified. "I was desperate. I did not want to go to jail .... I was dropping as many names as I could."