February 20, 2015 | Prosecutors told the court on Thursday that they found a recording of Richard Darby asking his father to help him escape.
Darby’s father visited him Wednesday evening. Each visitation is recorded by the jail. Aaron Ragland, an investigator with the Bowie County District Attorney’s Office, was able to access the voice recording through the Internet.
Prosecutors notified the court that the State was going to call a rebuttable witness regarding the voice recording. Darby testified earlier today and stated several times that he was taking responsibility for his actions and was going to accept the jury’s punishment.
The Prosecution want to use the voice recording to rebut Darby’s testimony that he is remorseful and he wants to accept the jury’s punishment.
However, Defendant’s Counsel Will Williams and Chad Crowl vehemently objected, claiming that it is not proper rebuttal evidence. Williams argued that the recording was an unfair surprise and that the comments made by Darby on the recording were said in a joking manner.
The judge listened to the recorded evidence and heard the circumstances around its acquisition in order to determine whether the jury will be allowed to hear the evidence. The jury was sent home for the evening before this testimony was heard.
First, Chief Deputy Jeff Neal was called to the stand. Neal stated that as soon as Ragland heard the recording, he contacted Chief Deputy Jeff Neal with the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office. Neal received the phone call at 12:26 pm Thursday. Neal called the Bi-State determine who was visiting Darby at the time of the recording. The log stated that Darby’s father was visiting Darby.[Voice #1]: … [I]s there an exit on that floor or do you have to go downstairs…? [Voice #2]: They are going to come get you. They are going to come get us.
Williams vehemently argued that during the next part of the recording, which both sides argue different things are said.
Will claims Darby says: “Nah, I am just pl___.” The voice is then interrupted. Williams claims that Darby was saying “playing”, which indicates Darby was joking. Williams further argued that there were two other phrases that indicated the Defendant was trying to indicate to his father that he was joking. Prosecutors argue that Darby did not say these statements.
Judge Lockhart said he would rule whether the voice recording will be played for the jury Friday morning.
Kristie Provence, a cashier at the Dollar General, testified about a masked man entering her store, pointing a gun in her face, and taking money. “I opened the bottom safe, I gave him the bank bag. He just wanted the money and not the coins. He grabbed the dollar general bag and put the bank bag in it. He was also given the money from the cash drawer,” stated Provence. The masked man left with money from the register and one of the safes. “In the bottom drawer, we keep $700 … He got about $125 from the drawer,” stated Provence. The surveillance video was played for the jury and Provence described what was happening. “
“I stayed there about four hours before I felt comfortable driving home. I was extremely upset and felt uneasy, nauseous and dizzy,” stated Provence describing how she felt after the events occurred.
Kristy Whisenhunt with the Wake Village Police Department testified about the circumstances of the robbery of the 94 year old woman, Dorothy Dillard.
The State called Dorothy Dillard. She testified that she was the victim of a theft
I went to the beauty shop which I do on Friday. I then went to get groceries at Walmart. I went to get the groceries out of the car. When I went down the street, i noticed this car behind me. but he went down to the end of the street and looked back my way. I stopped at the mailbox to get my mail. I gave the signal that I was going to get my mail. He went to the end of the cul de sac. I did not let the door down on my garage. I got out and got my purse. I went back to get my groceries out and carry it all together. So, I looked up and here came this fellow. He had this masked around the face. He scared me so bad that I don’t know what I did. She said – what are you here for? I had my purse on my arm,” stated Dillard.
“I held on to the purse and would not let go I hollowed and screamed. If scream enough, my neighbor will come and he did. I never seen him before. We struggled over the purse,” stated Dillard.
“He was able to overpower me and get the purse. He put his hand over my mouth and told me to let loose of the purse. WHen he saw the neighbor come out of the house, and soon as he did that, that fellow just pulled that purse off of my arm and went back to his car,” stated Dillard.
“I was thrown over the trunk of my car. He bent me over the back of my car. He still had his hand over my mouth and telling me to shut up,” stated Dillard.
The State rested about the questioning of Dillard was finished.
Public Defender Chad Crowl called Mr. Albert “Burt” Nicholas. He testified to Darby being a well-mannered person when he was young, especially around church when he saw him. “Richard was very quiet. When I knew him, he was with his dad. He was not always running around talking to people. He was always courteous when I saw him,” stated Nicholas.
Crowl called William Bland to the stand. “I first came to the knowledge of little Richard when he used to call the radio station with his grandmother. She loved the blues. She would have Richard call and request blues songs,” stated Bland. “I would describe him as a happy kid. He did not seem to have malice toward anyone,” stated Bland.
Crowl then called Darby’s father, Richard Darby, Junior. “RIchard did not have a relationship with his mother. She went to prison and when she got out she never called or did anything for him,” stated Darby’s father. He further testified that he and Darby’s grandmother raised Darby.
Both Darby’s father and grandmother had cancer. “His Grandmother had cancer for a lot of years different ailments and blood pressure and depression. He would help me with his grandmother. He would help out. He would do the best he could for his grandmother and myself.
“He did not have a drug problem that I knew of. THere was none of that stuff at my house. I noticed the day something was going on with him. I was on my way to getting some help for him,” stated Darby.
Crowl then called Darby to the stand. “My grandmother and father have been sick my whole life. I just never felt and I would help them cook and clean. As I got older, then more and more the health declined. As that happened, I lost some of myself. I started smoking regularly after that. It went from smoking weed to to popping pain pills.,” stated Darby.
Darby testified that he is accepting for responsibility for the crimes he plead guilty to, but he did not do the things the Prosecutor is alleging regarding the sexual assault. He claimed that another person brought and used the toothbrush on the victim and that he did not direct the two inmates to engage in oral sex later that night.
Kelley Crisp cross-examined Darby showing that he had changed his story several times between multiple interviews with law enforcement and his testimony in court. Darby also stated the victim and another witness who testified were lying about the events that occurred in jail.
Crowl called Reverend Kenneth Reid of Mount Grove Baptist Church, who is also a teacher at Washington academy charter school where Darby was attended part of his schooling, to the stand. “It is very serious. There is some good in him, but we have to deal. The consequences have to line up with the choices we make. I am appalled on both sides. I believe rehabilitation can occur. But I also think there has to be a reality check. there has to be some time of counseling in order to be a better person,” stated Reverend Reid.
If Judge Lockhart allows the recording, the State is expected to call Chief Deputy Jeff Neal as a rebuttable witness and introduce the voice recording of the conversation where Darby allegedly asked his father to help him escape. Closing arguments are expected soon after this testimony, and then jury will deliberate on punishment of Darby.