Thursday, July 12, 2018
BENTONVILLE -- Eyes in the courtroom turned to her as she entered the room and, with a little help, walked on her prosthetic legs to the witness stand. Bandages covered the ends of her amputated arms.
The woman smiled before Carrie Dobbs, deputy prosecutor, started asking her questions. She answered in a loud and clear voice. There were even moments of laughter from her.
Charles Alan Rickman, 31, could receive four sentences ranging from 10 to 40 years or life in prison if he’s convicted of aggravated residential burglary, kidnapping and two counts of rape. He will be sentenced to five to 20 years if convicted of battery.
Source: Staff report
She was the last witness called Wednesday afternoon by prosecutors in the jury trial of Charles Allen Rickman, 31, of Gentry. Rickman sat across the room at a table with his attorneys and showed no reaction to the woman's entrance or her testimony.
Rickman is charged with aggravated residential burglary, kidnapping, two counts of rape and battery. He's accused of beating and raping the woman, when she was 69 years old, so severely portions of her legs and arms had to be amputated.
Rickman took the stand Wednesday after the woman told jurors what she remembered about the early morning hours of Oct. 3. She testified she was awakened at 1:30 a.m. by a knock on her door by a man who claimed he had car trouble and needed to use her cell phone.
She lived in the area for more than 20 years and only opened the door because she thought someone needed her help. She said she gave the man her phone and he forced his way into her home.
"He grabbed me from behind," she said. "He was really strong."
The man covered her eyes before he removed her clothes and took her to the bedroom, she testified. He tied up her hands and feet and raped her. The woman said she could feel the man hitting her in the back with what she believes was a cord.
The man threatened to kill her twice during the five hours he was with her, she testified.
"I was scared if I fully did not cooperate that he would kill me," the woman said.
Dr. Donna Johnson, a general surgeon at Mercy Hospital in Rogers, testified earlier Wednesday the woman's injuries could have led to life-threatening infections so it was necessary to remove her hands and feet. Amputations were done in two surgeries, Johnson said.
Johnson said the woman had 15 to 25 surgical procedures and she was discharged Dec. 30 to a rehabilitation facility.
The woman described herself as an active person before her attack, using a push mower to take care of her lawn, volunteering and working five days a week at Care and Share Inc. in Gravette.
She said she loved her missionary work and had traveled to at least 10 countries to help others.
The woman said she couldn't recognize her attacker. She met Rickman when she hired Eric Burchette to paint her house. Burchette hired Rickman to help him with the job and he introduced them.
The jury watched a recording where Rickman confessed to detectives he raped her.
"Are you a monster?" Susanne Matthews, a detective with the Benton County Sheriff's Office, asked Rickman at the beginning of the interview.
Rickman admitted to using methamphetamine and drinking alcohol Oct. 2, but he only remembered "bits and pieces" about beating and raping the woman.
Rickman loudly cried throughout the interview and admitted going to the woman's house Oct. 3 and claiming to have car trouble. Rickman said he forced his way into her home, blindfolded her, took her to her bedroom and raped her.
He told detectives he didn't plan on killing the woman and didn't give any explanation for the attack.
After the prosecution rested their case, Rickman took the stand. He was the only witness to testify in his defense.
He said the day before the attack he started drinking malt liquor beer after he finished working and bought a little more than a quarter of a gram of methamphetamine.
Once home he said he smoked and snorted the meth. He said he typically didn't use that amount of the drug. Rickman denied he was a meth addict.
He said he couldn't remember the 22-mile drive to the woman's house, but he kind of remembers being at the woman's door.
"I don't remember pushing the door open," Rickman said.
Rickman said he remembers wrapping a cloth around the woman's eyes.
"What happened next?" Lee Warden, one of Rickman's attorneys, asked him.
Rickman paused a few moments and said the woman was naked, but he didn't remember taking the woman's clothes off. He remembered walking the woman upstairs to her bedroom. He said he put the woman on the bed and had sex with her.
He said he remembers "spanking" the woman with a belt and abusing the woman with an object.
"I don't remember much after that," he said. "I remember like coming out of daze."
He said he remembered laying on the bed with the woman and being disgusted with himself. He said he felt guilty and he decided to wash her bed sheets.
Rickman said he still was drunk from the beer and under the influence of methamphetamine.
"I was really messed up under both of them," he said.
Rickman at one point referred to the crime as an accident. "I was so out of it on drugs that I was not in the right frame of mind," he said in an attempt to explain his reasoning.
Both sides rested their cases Wednesday.
The trial continues this morning. Circuit Judge Brad Karren will read instructions to the jury. The attorneys will give closing statements and the jury will begin deliberation.
NW News on 07/12/2018
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