MAYFIELD -- Tom Drive resident Daniel Dulin appeared stunned and sad during a preliminary hearing Wednesday morning in Graves District Court as a first-degree assault charge against him in the death of Larry West was upgraded to murder.
Dulin, 44, allegedly beat West, 64, also of Tom Drive, to death on May 5 while the men were riding on a Fulton County Transit bus near Mayfield. West was taken to Jackson Purchase Medical Center after the incident and then to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he died on May 8.
Judge Deborah Hawkins-Crooks told Dulin and his attorney, Dennie Leach with the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, at the end of the hearing that she found probable cause to upgrade the charge to murder.
The case was bound over to a grand jury scheduled to meet June 8.
If convicted, Crooks told Dulin, he could get 20 years to life in prison.
According to testimony by Kentucky State Police Post 1 Detective Cory Hamby, the investigator in the case and the only one to testify, West died of injuries he suffered when Dulin attacked him. The attack took place while the two men were riding the bus on Silver Court, west of Mayfield on Old Dublin Road.
Hamby told County Attorney John Cunningham that the two men knew each other and lived at the same Tom Drive address, having been placed there in an apparent group home by state officials.
Hamby said he interviewed Dulin concerning what happened on the bus and asked him why he attacked West.
According to testimony, West - whom Hamby described as possibly "non-verbal" - was reportedly poking Dulin with his finger, maybe as a way to get his attention.
However Hamby also pointed out that he did not see evidence of that claim on video taken from a surveillance system installed on the bus.
Witnesses reportedly told Hamby that Dulin appeared to become angry and attacked West for "picking on him," by striking him repeatedly with his fists about the head and face.
Following the incident, West was removed from the bus and transferred to JPMC and Dulin was taken to his home on Tom Drive.
So far, a medical examiner's report has not been provided, but Hamby said it was apparent that West died of the beating he received from Dulin.
There were no weapons used or found on the bus, according to Hamby.
Dulin's attorney, Dennie Leach, then questioned Hamby about his interview with the accused. Hamby told Leach that the bus driver, James Carter, was the one who first reported the incident.
Carter reportedly heard Dulin tell West to stop touching him.
"The next thing he knew, there was a fight," Hamby testified.
Concerning West's death, Hamby told Leach it didn't appear that West suffered very serious external injuries, but that his condition continue to grow worse and he eventually fell into a coma and died at Vanderbilt.
Dulin reportedly appeared saddened and repentant when told by police that West may not live when Hamby interviewed him after the assault.
"He stated ,'It was an accident,'" Hamby told Leach.
"He didn't mean to do it."
Dulin reportedly responded, "I'm sorry" repeatedly when he was told that West was dead, Hamby added.
Dulin remains incarcerated at Graves County Jail on a $50,000 cash bond.