According to court documents David Sanders would enter a grocery store with the intention of robbing it. During the robbery he would shoot and kill two people: Jim Brandenburg and Wayne Hatch
David Sanders would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
David Sanders Photos
David Sanders Now
|Name:||SANDERS, DAVID LEE|
|PID # / DOC #:||216506 / 032840|
|Institution Start Date:||6/26/1987|
|Expected Time To Serve (TTS):||DEATH SENTENCE|
|Minimum Expiration of Sentence Date (Good Time Release Date): ?||DEATH SENTENCE|
|Parole Eligibility Date:||DEATH SENTENCE|
|Maximum Expiration of Sentence Date:||DEATH SENTENCE|
|Location:||Kentucky State Penitentiary|
David Sanders Case
On January 28, 1987, David Sanders walked into Boone Variety Store to buy a few items and to use the phone. He called his parents to find out if he needed to help his father work on a barn that day—he did—then called his wife to let her know that he would be helping his father and spending the night with his parents. Finished with his business in the store, he walked outside to his truck, retrieved two guns, and reentered the store. He shot and killed the proprietor, James Brandenburg, and a customer, Wayne Hatch. Sanders killed both men with a single shot to the back of the head. Sanders got in his truck and went home, tossing some of Hatch’s items out of the window and off of a bridge along the way.
On January 31, Kentucky State Police Detectives Skip Benton and Robert Stephens, along with Madison County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Smith, drove to Flemingsburg, Kentucky, to question Sanders—the first of several police interrogations. They interrogated David Sanders about the Madison County murders and a similar shooting that occurred a few weeks before in Lincoln County. Sanders steadfastly denied killing Brandenburg and Hatch or having any part in the Lincoln County shooting. Sanders admitted that he did drive to Madison County that afternoon and showed Detective Benton where he parked the day of the murders. Later that day, Detective Benton had Sanders’ truck taken to the state police post in Madison County to be searched for evidence.
On February 2, David Sanders and his wife called the Kentucky State Police to see when the truck would be released. Detective Benton told them that it could be released to someone whose name was on the Bill of Sale. Sanders went to retrieve the truck that evening. Upon Sanders’ arrival at the state police post, Detective Benton Mirandized him and, along with Stephens and Smith, interrogated him again. They arrested Sanders between 8:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. that night and put him in the drunk tank.
Before long, David Sanders began to break down. He started hitting his head against the wall and would later report that he wanted to kill himself. He finally told one of the jailors to find Detective Benton. When Benton arrived early the next morning, Sanders confessed to killing Brandenburg and Hatch. Sanders also admitted to the Lincoln County shooting.
A grand jury indicted David Sanders on two charges of capital murder and two charges of first-degree robbery. Sanders retained Kevin Charters as defense counsel. Two weeks after his arrest, Sanders asked for psychiatric help; so the court sent him to the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center (“KCPC”) for evaluation. Though Sanders requested treatment for his neurological health, the court directed KCPC to also evaluate whether Sanders was competent to stand trial and whether he had been insane when he committed the murders. After a forty-day evaluation by a team of psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, the KCPC concluded that Sanders was competent to stand trial and was not insane at the time of the murders. In late May, a week before Sanders’ trial, he secured the pro bono services of Dr. Stuart Cooke, a clinical psychologist. Dr. Cooke spent an afternoon evaluating Sanders and concluded that Sanders was insane when he shot Brandenburg and Hatch.
Sanders’ trial took place during the first week of June 1987. He offered insanity as his sole defense. During the Commonwealth’s case-in-chief, Detective Benton testified about his interrogations of Sanders, including Sanders’ inconsistent stories and confession. He also testified about the similarities between the Lincoln County and Madison County shootings. A firearms examiner testified that the bullet removed from Brandenburg and the bullet removed from the Lincoln County victim, Ethel Rankin, were fired from the same gun—a gun Sanders admitted he borrowed from his brother.
The Commonwealth called Sanders’ wife to testify. She detailed Sanders’ actions the morning of the shooting, recounted some of his past, and declared that he was a good father to her two children. She insisted that he would not hurt anyone and said that their marriage had been happy. She also described two incidents where Sanders hit her—she said that she provoked him and that he felt awful for doing it.
Sanders testified in his own defense. He admitted that he killed Brandenburg and Hatch and shot Rankin. He recounted the events of both shootings, testifying that he felt like he was watching himself commit the crimes from outside his own body.
Dr. Cooke also testified for the defense. Dr. Cooke concluded that Sanders had a depersonalization disorder—a disorder where a person feels like he has lost control over his own body. He believed that this illness prevented Sanders from conforming his conduct to the law.
In rebuttal, the Commonwealth presented testimony from Dr. Candace Walker, the clinical psychologist who led the KCPC evaluation team. She described the evaluation and presented the team’s findings. Though Sanders had some type of personality disorder, Walker concluded, he was not insane. She said that the team considered but quickly rejected Dr. Cooke’s diagnosis. Throughout the KCPC’s extensive evaluation, Walker’s team could not find evidence of psychosis or the type of mental illness that would prevent Sanders from understanding the criminality of his conduct. In Walker’s opinion, Sanders showed no remorse and was motivated by a desire for money.
The jury found David Sanders guilty on both counts of murder and on both counts of robbery. The penalty phase of trial was short; the Commonwealth moved and the court agreed to incorporate all of the guilt-phase evidence into the sentencing phase. Sanders presented a total of about ten minutes of mitigation testimony from four witnesses. Sanders also took the stand himself. He cried throughout his eight-minute statement, stated he did not understand what happened or why, and blamed the KCPC for not giving him the help he needed. After the close of evidence and arguments, the jury found two aggravating circumstances supporting a death sentence: (1) the murders were committed during the course of a robbery, and (2) the murders were intentional and resulted in multiple deaths. The jury recommended and the court imposed a sentence of death.