The Richmond Register

February 26, 2013

Friends, shooting victim’s family say defendant told conflicting stories

Trial in first-degree assault case enters second day

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — Friends and family of Matthew Richie took the stand Tuesday, all saying the man accused of shooting him considered Richie his best friend and never showed any animosity toward him.

However, several people testified that Denver Rearick told them different versions of what happened the night of Jan. 22, 2011, in the days following the shooting.

The first-degree assault trial of Rearick, which began Monday, continued in Madison Circuit Court on Tuesday. If convicted of the charge, Rearick faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Smith told the jury Monday during opening statements that Rearick was drunk and wrestling with Richie when he put the gun in Richie’s mouth. The prosecutor is alleging that Rearick’s reckless behavior with the gun led to Richie’s shooting.

However, defense attorney Michael Eubanks told the jury Richie also was behaving recklessly with a gun that night, and he accidentally shot himself.

Friends, family testify

A friend to both Richie and Rearick, Christopher Darnell testified that Rearick told him three different stories about what happened Jan. 22, 2011. Darnell was not at Rearick’s Waco home at the time of the shooting.

Rearick initially said Richie shot himself, Darnell said. But a few days later in a phone conversation, Rearick said he “may or may not have shot my best friend,” Darnell testified.

On the Monday following the shooting, Darnell went to the Rearick home to retrieve some of Richie’s personal belongings. At that time, Rearick allegedly told him that he’d accidentally shot Richie.

Matthew Richie’s roommate at the time, Anthony LoRey, testified he never saw Rearick acting with animosity toward Richie. However, he said he thought it was odd when Rearick told him shortly after the shooting he didn’t know if it was his gun or Richie’s that had gone off.

"You know when you fire a weapon,” LoRey said.

Anthony LoRey’s mother, Delores LoRey, testified Rearick told her at the hospital that Richie had shot himself.

But Richie’s father, Lowell Richie, testified that Rearick said he didn’t know what happened when they spoke, also at the hospital.

"I told him ‘Regardless of what happened, thank you for saving my son,’” Lowell Richie said.

Rearick and two other men at the house at the time of the shooting administered first aid to Richie until paramedics arrived.

Neurosurgeon details life-saving procedure

The neurosurgeon who performed emergency surgery on Richie testified Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. Robert Owen said the bullet wound “basically obliterated (Richie’s) carotid (artery).” This led to a massive stroke on the right side of Richie’s brain.

Richie’s brain began to swell, and Owen performed a craniotomy, removing a large portion of Richie’s skull to give the brain room to expand. Although the right side of Richie’s brain was damaged, the doctor was trying to prevent damage to the left side of his brain.

Eubanks submitted into evidence several medical records from Owen and other physicians that stated Richie had an “unintentional self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Owen said that information likely originated from Richie’s initial chart when he arrived at the hospital, which may have come from the paramedics because Richie was unconscious.

The doctor said he does not have the training to determine whether a gunshot is self-inflicted based on the injuries, adding his focus at the time was on keeping Richie’s brain alive.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. today. The jury is expected to begin deliberations Thursday.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.