The Richmond Register

Crime

February 26, 2013

Defense: Victim accidentally shot himself

Man faces assault charge in 2011 incident

RICHMOND — “Come on brother, stay with me man!”

A man’s voice frantically urging 26-year-old Matthew Richie to keep breathing and to stay alive were heard over and over on the 911 tape played Monday in Madison Circuit Court.

Denver Rearick, 29, was one of the people who rendered aid to Richie on Jan. 22, 2011, after the man had been shot in the face at a Waco home. However, Monday morning Rearick sat with his attorneys at the start of his trial on a charge of first-degree assault.

Rearick was arrested by the Kentucky State Police nearly four months after the incident. Although  it was initially considered accidental by the KSP, a Madison grand jury found sufficient evidence to indict Rearick, alleging he acted in a reckless manner that led to Richie’s life-threatening injury.

The KSP originally reported that Rearick and Richie were “twirling” guns while intoxicated, and Rearick’s gun discharged. However, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Smith presented a different scenario to the jury.

Rearick and Richie served in the U.S. Army and became close friends during a tour of duty in Iraq. During a get-together with other Army veterans, the two men began roughhousing. At some point, Rearick pulled Richie back over his knee, put the pistol in his mouth and it went off, Smith said.

Being drunk and playing with a loaded gun is something “no person ever, with any commonsense, would ever do,” the prosecutor said.

However, defense attorney Michael Eubanks presented a different version of what happened. Statements from friends revealed that Rearick and Richie often behaved in a manner that was “very irresponsible and cavalier” with firearms, according to Eubanks.

The night of the shooting, Richie and Rearick went into the living room together while two other men stayed in the kitchen. Eubanks said Rearick had turned away from Richie in order to take his shirt off when he heard a gunshot. He turned to see Richie falling to the ground and bleeding from a gunshot wound to the face.

The injury to Richie was accidentally self-inflicted, Eubanks told the jury. Once the evidence is presented, “you’ll agree with me that (the shooting) was unfortunate, but it was not criminal,” the defense attorney said.

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