Posted: May 11, 2005 4:04 pm EST

Malone trial opens with tape of shooting of Oklahoma trooper (~22 col. in.)
by Gaylord Shaw, The Duncan (Okla.) Banner
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    By Gaylord Shaw
    CNHI News Service

    LAWTON, Okla. — The 12 jurors had just settled into their swivel chairs when a big-screen TV monitor was rolled into the courtroom. What they were about to see and hear wasn’t entertaining. It was gut-wrenching.
    State’s Exhibit No. 1 in the murder trial of Ricky Ray Malone is a videotape from the dash camera in the Oklahoma Highway Patrol car of trooper Nikky Green. On Tuesday afternoon, the six men and six women in the jury box stared at the TV as District Attorney Robert Schulte inserted the tape.
    So did the 62 other people in the courtroom. One was Linda Green, the trooper’s widow and mother of their three daughters, ages 3, 7 and 10. She was seated in the second row of the courtroom spectators’ section.
    Another was Malone, 30, who until October 2003 was a firefighter and emergency medical technician for the Duncan Fire Department. His chair was moved to the other side of the defense table so he could view the monitor.
    The courtroom was silent when the prosecutor pressed the “play” button.
    Then the room was filled with the voices of two men, gasping for breath. At times, their words were barely audible. At others, chillingly clear.
    The men could not be seen on the screen. The image there was of a white car, obviously stopped alongside the road, empty of people. The patrol car’s headlights illuminated the rear of the car. The surrounding road was dark. A corner of the screen digitally gave the date: Dec. 26, 2003, and the time: 6:51 a.m.
    It was the darkness before dawn, the morning after Christmas 16 months ago, on a country road in the Red River Valley 60 miles southwest of Duncan.
    As the 11-minute tape began, a man’s voice shouted: “Think about it! Think about it! Please, please. I’ve got children. ... Don’t kill me, don’t kill me ...”
    After some unintelligible noise, a second voice could be clearly heard: “I’m not going to shoot you. I gave you my word.”
    “Oh God,” the trooper gasped. “Did you find it?”
    The prosecutor said Green was referring to Malone’s demand for a handcuff key. In his opening statement to the jury, Schulte said the trooper wanted Malone to stick his bloody hands into the pockets of his uniform to deposit DNA evidence.
    “No,” said the voice identified as Malone’s. “I’m going to shoot you.”
    In the background, the patrol car’s radio crackled. “Lawton, George-198, 10-90.”
    It was dispatcher Darrell Morgan in the Highway Patrol’s district headquarters in Lawton, where the G Troop is based. Green was part of the G Troop. He wore Badge 198, thus was known in patrol radio dispatches as George-198. The universal police code for checking on officer’s welfare is 10-90.
    Morgan’s computerized transmission unit had gone “red line,”  he testified, because 10 minutes had elapsed since the trooper had radioed he was getting out of his patrol car to check on a white four-door car, and he hadn’t checked back in with the dispatcher.
    “Lawton. George-198, 10-90.”
    The call was never answered.
    But the trooper’s voice could be heard again on the patrol unit’s dash-cam tape.
    “Please, I’ve done everything you said ... please don’t shoot me. In the name of Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus Christ.”
    “Lawton. George-198. 10-90,” the patrol unit’s radio could be heard again.
    Then there was the sharp crack of a gunshot, 11 seconds of silence, and a second shot.
    There were a  few seconds of unintelligible sounds on the tape. Then, suddenly, the image of a man appears at the white car. He’s wearing a black jacket. He begins opening and closing the car’s doors and trunk lid, grabbing objects and throwing them into the darkness. He gets into the car, and it is seen and heard driving away into the beginnings of dawn.
    In the hushed courtroom, Linda Green sat silently, her hands clasped in her lap.
    A few minutes later, she dabbed her eyes with a tissue.
    At the defense table, any view of Malone was shielded by his lawyers and two husky sheriff’s deputies. Malone, who has appeared in court unshackled, was wearing a dark blue dress shirt and slacks. He is thin and his skin is pale.
    His wife, Colleen, told a reporter he has lost 80 pounds in his 16 months in jail.
    On the day after Christmas, the Highway Patrol broadcast a bulletin for the suspect in the trooper's murder. It described the assailant as a white male with short hair, more than 6 feet tall, weighing over 200 pounds, wearing a black jacket.
    The patrol also gave the news media a video clip of the man standing beside the white car, turning to look directly at the camera.
    Duncan Police Officer Keith Stewart testified he saw the video clip on the evening news. “That’s Nikky Malone,” he said he told his wife and he reached for the telephone to call the 800 number flashing on his home television screen. Prosecutors said that call by the nine-year-veteran of the local force quickly focused the investigation on Malone, who had been arrested twice in the previous two months on drug charges.

    Gaylord Shaw writes for The Duncan (Okla.) Banner

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