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Murray man who pepper-sprayed police, protesters in 2020 to face no prison time

Liam Niemeyer

A Murray man who pepper-sprayed protesters and police officers during a 2020 protest against police brutality and racism will face no prison time as a part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

Prosecution struck a deal with 55-year-old David Frymire in August to remove three felony charges of assaulting police officers and amend a fourth felony assault charge to a misdemeanor wanton endangerment charge.

The agreement resulted in Frymire entering an Alford plea to that charge and three other misdemeanor assault charges and let go on a conditional discharge, meaning he would face no time in prison as long as he doesn’t commit any further offenses.

At a Friday sentencing hearing, McCracken County Circuit Court Judge Tony Kitchen — who took over the case after Calloway County Circuit Court Judge Jamie Jameson recused himself — accepted the plea deal in what he called a “difficult case.”

“Emotions run high, especially among people who were affected by your actions that day, Mr. Frymire,” Kitchen said.

The judge said he gave “substantial deference” to 42nd Judicial Circuit Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Foust in accepting the plea deal given that Foust was the local elected prosecutor.

In an interview after the sentencing, Foust said he didn’t believe he could build a strong enough case for the felony charges because video evidence wouldn’t be convincing enough for a Calloway County jury. He specifically said there was video that could have supported a self-defense claim by Frymire.

“There was video that made him look bad, and there was video that made what he did look justified. And I think at the end of the day, 12 jurors would not have convicted,” Foust said.

Madison Leach, a local defense attorney who said she was pepper-sprayed at the protest, gave an emotional statement at the sentencing urging Kitchen to reject the plea deal and keep the felony charges.

“I don’t want people thinking they can just attack demonstrators and protesters in this town and get away with it,” Leach said. “They're saying, ‘We recommend no jail time, your honor.’ That seriously depreciates the seriousness of this event. It's a smack in the face to me. It's a smack in the face to this community and it's a smack in the face of law enforcement who was also maced that day.”

Leach also said she was not consulted about the plea deal as one of the victims of the assault and that the protesters “were not the aggressors that day.”

Foust said he’s sympathetic to the sentiments of the pepper spray victims and that the plea agreement may seem, to some, as contrary to standing up for the rights of protesters. But he said prosecutors would continue to stand behind First Amendment rights.

“We had to do what we felt like was best for the Commonwealth, and that sometimes involves doing things that a victim may not agree with simply because of proof issues and things of that nature,” Foust said.

Foust said the “indications” he received from police officers involved in the assault were that they were fine with the plea deal, though he also indicated Murray Police Department Chief Jeff Liles didn’t agree with the deal. Attempts to reach Liles were not immediately returned.

Frymire, the son of former Hopkins County Judge-Executive Richard Frymire, apologized to the court, saying that the pepper spray had hit people that “weren’t trying to physically harm” him but were in the nearby area when he used it.

“I just want to put this behind me,” Frymire said.

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"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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