The Richmond Register

Crime

February 27, 2013

Gunshot victim, defendant testify in assault trial

Gunshot victim

RICHMOND — One of the first things Matthew Richie remembered about waking up in the University of Kentucky Medical Center was seeing his mother at his bedside.

“You’ve got a boo-boo,” Richie said his mother told him. Several people in the courtroom Wednesday chuckled, bringing a humorous moment to the man’s intense testimony about his recovery after being shot in the face.

The third day of Denver Rearick’s trial on a first-degree assault charge began with the victim’s testimony.

The two men had become fast friends after serving together in Iraq, and they had gotten together with other former Army buddies at Rearick’s parents’ home in Waco on Jan. 22, 2011.

“I got to the point I would’ve died for him,” Richie said about serving with Rearick, who he had considered his best friend.

However, the night of the get-together,  Richie said Rearick was acting recklessly with firearms, twirling them and pointing them at people. He also said Rearick was drunk and getting high by inhaling nitrous oxide from canisters, also know as doing “whippets.”

Around 9:30 p.m., Richie said he was standing by the fireplace talking to Rearick when the man unexpectedly grabbed him from behind and put him in a headlock.

“Then I felt something hit me in the mouth,” Richie testified. It was a handgun, and it discharged into Richie’s mouth.

“It felt like something hit me in the back of the neck, like a 2-by-4,” Richie said.

Richie’s carotid artery was obliterated by the bullet, according to his neurosurgeon’s testimony Tuesday. The loss of blood to his brain caused a stroke in the right hemisphere, resulting in permanent paralysis to the left side of Richie’s body.

The surgeon also performed an emergency surgery to remove a portion of Richie’s skull so his brain could have room to swell.

Two years later, Richie cannot walk without assistance, and he is unable to dress or care for himself, he said.

“There’s not much I can do alone because I have a broken chicken wing,” Richie said, holding up his left arm to another round of chuckles.

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