Elizabethtown defendant convicted in Morgantown shooting fled court after guilty verdict


JOHNSON COUNTY — An Elizabethtown man was convicted Wednesday of attempted murder in the shooting of a man outside his home in Morgantown last year.

He then unsuccessfully tried to flee after learning the guilty verdict.

Nicholas R. Saunders, 20, formerly of Morgantown, was found guilty Wednesday by a jury on charges of attempted murder, a Level 1 felony, and two counts of pointing a firearm, a Level 6 felony. Attempted murder is punishable by up to 40 years in prison, while pointing a firearm is punishable by up to 2.5 years in prison, according to a Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office news release.

He also faces a use of a firearm enhancement, which is punishable by up to 20 additional years in prison. The enhancement will be decided at a later date, the news release says.

“I am very pleased with this verdict,” said Lance Hamner, Johnson County Prosecutor. “It will doubtless result in a decades-long prison sentence for Mr. Saunders, sending a strong message to dangerous criminals that we will not tolerate vicious criminals in Johnson County.”

Prosecutors say that on Aug. 7, 2022, Saunders traveled to a Morgantown residence, pulled out a firearm and shot a man at least five times. Saunders pointed a firearm at the man’s wife as well before fleeing the scene.

Saunders was not alone that day, as he was joined by Miranda D. Lawson, 20, of Edinburgh, who knew the male victim. She has also been charged with attempted murder, along with aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony; two counts of pointing a firearm, a Level 6 felony; and false informing, a Class A misdemeanor. Her case is pending.

The shooting was investigated by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

Hamner thanked deputy prosecutors Matthew Kubacki and Bryan Smith for their hard work and “effective advocacy” in obtaining the verdict. He also thanked lead Detective Travis Wampler and the rest of the investigative team “for their dedication and thorough investigation,” he said.

“This is how we keep our county safe,” Hamner said.

After the jury returned its verdict, Saunders lept up and fled the courtroom. He was quickly apprehended in the stairwell by “quick thinking and quick moving” sheriff’s deputies, the news release says.

Saunders collided with the wall in the stairwell at the Johnson County Courthouse North Annex during his attempt to flee. This left a hole in the wall, photos provided to the Daily Journal show.

He remains in the custody of the sheriff’s office.

Saunders has also been charged with attempted murder in Monroe County in an unrelated case. During the investigation of the Morgantown shooting, sheriff’s deputies uncovered evidence that led them to contact Bloomington Police about a July 11, 2022, shooting.

In the Bloomington shooting, prosecutors say a man was walking and had stopped at a stoplight when the occupants of a silver sedan called him a name. The man approached the vehicle and began speaking Spanish to them, asking how they were doing, according to court documents.

As the man walked up to the driver’s side window, the driver raised a silver handgun and fired, hitting him in the chest. The vehicle then drove northbound, fleeing the scene. Saunders is believed to be the gunman, court documents show.

The Bloomington case is pending.

Saunders will be sentenced in the Johnson County case on April 4.