Monroe gets new court date on manslaughter charges

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By Lisa King

A man charged with manslaughter in a 2011 crash received a new court date of July 1 during a disposition hearing Monday in Shelby County Circuit Court.

Lonnie Monroe, 45, of Shelbyville originally was arrested Sept. 24 by Kentucky State Police and charged with murder in a tractor-trailer accident from November 2011 in which a passenger in his truck was killed. On Oct. 4, that charge was amended to second-degree manslaughter, which is a Class C felony that carries a penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison.

“After reviewing the case with the assistant commonwealth attorney [Melanie Carroll], she felt that the circumstances surrounding it better fit manslaughter than murder,” KSP Trooper Hunter Martin said at the time.

Monroe also is charged with DUI in a commercial vehicle.

Kentucky State Police spokesperson Ron Turley said that Monroe was under the influence of methamphetamines when the accident occurred.

The crash happened at shortly before noon on Nov. 9, 2011, at the intersection of Fisherville and Veechdale roads. Monroe was driving a 1992 Ford tractor truck, pulling a trailer westbound on Fisherville Road, when he tried to pass a U.S. Postal Service truck that was stopped to deliver mail at a residence.

Monroe lost control of the vehicle on the side of the road and overturned, striking some small trees and a fence. His passenger James Jacob, 38 who lived on Cherry Lane, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Turley said he does not know why it took so long to bring charges in the accident.

KSP Vehicle Enforcement Officer Steve Oliver said that he does not know if Monroe knowingly ignored the law concerning commercial vehicles or if he just didn’t realize his truck fit the requirements for a commercial vehicle.

“Some of the smaller trucks don’t normally fall under the guidelines of a commercial vehicle, but if they are pulling a trailer [which Monroe was], then that would make it commercial,” he said.

Oliver said DUI penalties in commercial vehicles are harsher than in passenger cars.

The legal limit for drivers of commercial vehicles (.04) is only half that for passenger cars (08).

Monroe’s court hearing on July 1 will be for a disposition hearing.