By Jeff Lehr
A fugitive warrant was issued Wednesday to keep a Seneca man in custody in Missouri for transfer to Cherokee County, Kan., in the wake of his acquittal on charges in Newton County related to a string of home invasions three years ago.
A McDonald County jury found Marty W. Rickey, 33, innocent on four felony counts he was facing at a trial this week in Pineville. The trial involving two invasions of elderly Newton County residents’ homes was moved to McDonald County on a change of venue.
Rickey was accused of accompanying his brother, James D. Rickey, 37, and John B. Gaston, 25, both of Joplin, in forcing their way Nov. 19, 2005, into the home of Pauline Carter west of Neosho and robbing her of jewelry. He faced counts of burglary, robbery and felonious restraint with respect to that case.
He also was accused of participating in the invasion of Doris Sill’s home Nov. 26, 2005, on the south side of Joplin. He faced a single count of burglary in that case. Sill’s purse, cell phone, jewelry and coins were taken from her house while she was in her back yard.
Gaston and James Rickey were convicted of both home invasions in Newton County and were assessed prison sentences. But Marty Rickey’s case was complicated by the death last month of Carter at the age of 91.
Newton County Prosecutor Jake Skouby used Gaston as a state witness to Marty Rickey’s alleged involvement in both home invasions. But defense attorney William Fleischaker countered Gaston’s testimony with the introduction into evidence of a deposition from the defendant’s brother, James Rickey, denying any involvement of Marty Rickey. The deposition claims that Gaston was lying to protect a friend of his who was actually with them.
Jurors took the brother’s word over Gaston’s and cleared Marty Rickey on all four counts.
Marty Rickey is charged in Cherokee County, Kan., with kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and misdemeanor theft, crimes he allegedly committed a year ago while out on bond. He is accused of breaking into the rural Baxter Springs home of Stan and Alta Peck, and stealing a purse containing $30 in cash, credit cards and a cell phone. He allegedly was armed with a handgun and confined Alta Peck to aid his getaway.
James Rickey remains in custody in Cherokee County, where he faces first-degree murder and other charges related to a home invasion he allegedly committed with Gaston in 2005. Dorothy Daniels, 86, died when a blood vessel near her heart burst in the immediate aftermath of an invasion of her home.
Gaston, who also was charged with murder in the Daniels case, pleaded guilty last year to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter and burglary, and was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison. But, before he begins serving the Kansas sentence, he must complete concurrent sentences of five and eight years that he was assessed for home invasions in Jasper and Newton counties.
Gaston also faces two 20-year sentences for home invasions in Ottawa County, Okla. Those sentences are running concurrently with the terms he must complete in Missouri and Kansas.
“I’m disappointed with the verdict,” Newton County Prosecutor Jake Skouby told the Globe. “But I respect the jury’s deliberation, and the jury’s verdict is what counts.”
By Jeff Lehr
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