The murder trial of a Woodville man accused of killing one CSX worker and injuring two others with a vehicle late last year began Monday in the courtroom of Judge Alan Mayberry.
|Cody Rickard (far right) in court with is attorneys. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Cody Ross Rickard, 26, Woodville, was indicted by a Wood County grand jury on one count of murder and two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide in the death of Paul Castle, 34, Paintsville, Ky. He was also indicted on two counts each of vehicular assault and felonious assault in the Oct. 28 incident on Bradner Road, near James Street in Bradner.
According to the Sheriff's Office, Rickard was driving on a portion of Bradner Road that was a construction site due to work on the railroad there. He reportedly drove around two sets of barricades and into the construction site, striking a total of three CSX workers, including Castle. The other two men were identified as Luis Knott and James Conley.
Castle died Nov. 12, and the cause of his death was determined to be multiple blunt-force trauma.
Knott and Conley were injured and released from area hospitals.
Prosecuting Attorney Aaron Lindsay, in delivering the opening statement for the state, said that evidence from the "black box" recorder of the white Dodge Charger Rickard was driving would show he accelerated from 41 to 61 miles per hour in the incident, never applying the brakes. He said Rickard also struck two road signs and a railroad signal pole. The area, he said, was closed to all but local traffic.
Lindsey also said that, upon exiting the vehicle after the crash, Rickard exclaimed "Yeah, I did it!"
"He appeared proud of what he'd done," said Lindsay, who indicated that, in speaking with a CSX worker, Rickard used profanity and, when told he could have killed the workers, said "Hope I killed them all." Rickard's toxicology screening was clean, said Lindsey.
Rickard was additionally reported to have thrown rocks at other CSX workers, and then attempted to flee the scene, Lindsay said.
Defense attorney Edward Rhode III, who utilized a large, poster-sized rendering of the crime scene, as well as photos of the area in his opening, said the area was not a closed construction zone, that other vehicles had been let through, and that the barricades did not actually block passage on the roadway. Indeed, he said that an employee let Rickard through an initial area.
|Cody Rickard's attorney, Edward Rhode III, giving opening statement.
Rhode argued that Rickard struck the pole, causing his vehicle's airbag to go off and making him unable to control the vehicle. It was at that point that Rickard struck Castle and the other workers, he said.
Rhode said Rickard had no idea he struck anyone and that nearby CSX workers "got into an altercation with him" after he exited the vehicle. He sustained a 1 1/2-inch laceration on the back of his head at some point during the incident, he said. He further said Rickard was subsequently treated for a traumatic brain injury, explaining his erratic behavior after the crash.
After opening statements, the jury was taken to a visit of the scene of the incident via Wood County Sheriff's Office vans.
Testimony followed the viewing trip, with the prosecution first calling Brandon Stokes, of Kentucky, a CSX worker at the scene.
Stokes testified he saw Rickard's vehicle strike the three workers, sending the men flying.
He also said that afterwards, Rickard said the other workers needed to clean up the area, using profanity.
"I believe everybody was more in shock than angry," he said under cross examination by Rhode.
The prosecution then called Christopher DeLeno, of Tennessee, foreman of the 27-man CSX crew working that day.
While DeLeno didn't see the vehicle strike Castle or the other men, he said he did go to the car after the crash.
In a tearful testimony, DeLeno said that, upon looking in the window of the car, Rickard said to him "the devil is my savior," and that Rickard, once outside of the car, said "Woo hoo, I did it!" When Rickard was told that he may have killed the men he struck, DeLeno testified Rickard said he should have killed all of the workers. He took part in chasing Rickard after the man reportedly ran down the tracks. Rickard threw stones at the CSX workers pursuing him, he said, striking one in the hand. Rickard, he said, later stopped and began saying "thank God I'm alive" and mumbling.
He characterized Rickard early-on as "stone cold. No remorse. No facial expression. Didn't seem like he was all there."
Under cross by Rhode, it was noted that DeLeno did not include Rickard's alleged words about the devil in his original statement to police, but had written that Rickard said "I love God. God is my savior."
Rhode asked both witnesses if they observed anyone strike Rickard, or saw him bleeding. Neither said they had.
Day two of testimony in the case was to begin this morning.