Posted: May 13, 2005 4:29 pm EST

DNA evidence singles out trooper shooting defendant (~26 col. in.)
by Gaylord Shaw/The Duncan (Okla.) Banner
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    By Gaylord Shaw
    CNHI News Service

    LAWTON, Okla. - The dry, technical words of the report District Judge Mark Smith was reading to the 12 jurors seemed in stark contrast to the dramatic and emotional testimony and evidence presented during the first three days in the capital murder trial of Ricky Ray Malone.
    The report had been written by Sue Ferrero, a chemist for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, comparing Malone's DNA with that of blood smears found inside the left front pocket of the pants worn by Trooper Nik Green on Dec. 26, 2003, when he was killed by two gunshots fired into the back of his head during a violent confrontation, sounds of which were recorded on the videotape of the patrol car's dash-cam.
    The judge told the six men and six women in the jury box that Malone's lawyers had stipulated to Ferrero's report being entered into evidence.
    That meant the 30-year-old Malone, a former Duncan firefighter and emergency medical technician, wasn't challenging the DNA evidence.
    Based on chemical tests, said the Ferrero report, the probability that the blood smears found in the left pocket of the trooper's pants belonged to someone other than Malone, the accused murderer, was 1 in 6 billion. For comparison, the world's population is estimated to be 6,441,053,669.
    The tape from the patrol unit's dash-cam recorded two voices - one pleading "Don't kill me" and the other demanding to know where the handcuff key was.
    Other evidence has shown that the trooper had snapped a handcuff on the right wrist of the man he found operating a mobile methamphetamine lab on a desolate Cotton County road at dawn the morning after Christmas 2003.
    Then, the evidence indicated, a violent struggle ensued, during which the suspect seized the trooper's gun, a semi-automatic Glock .357 Magnum, and forced the officer to remain facedown in a ditch.
    Outside the courtroom, Cotton County Undersheriff Tim Hill said he believed the trooper deliberately tried to get the man, his knuckles bloodied from the fight, to put his hand into his uniform pants pocket so blood would be left for DNA testing.
    "Nik was helping us," the undersheriff told a reporter in an interview in the weeks after Green's slaying. "He was getting the evidence for us" even as he was stretched out, facedown in the ditch, a gun pressed against his head.
    "We didn't catch Ricky Malone ... Nik did," said the undersheriff, whose job in Walters was once held by Green.
    Hill has not testified in the trial, and probably won't, because the prosecution rested its case on Thursday. Hill's theory wasn't mentioned in the DNA report read to jurors by the judge.
    Beside the blood smears found in the trooper's pocket, the OSBI's chemist report analyzed bloodstains on clothing stuffed into a white plastic bag found in a culvert beneath Camelback Road northwest of Duncan.
    The DNA matched that of the trooper, the report said. Earlier in the trial, two witnesses who said they drove Malone to Duncan from his sister's house in Lawton on Dec. 26, 2003, said Malone directed them to stop at the culvert on Camelback Road.
    Malone's court-appointed lawyer, Don Gutteridge, said outside the courtroom that he didn't contest the chemist's report because "DNA evidence is what the DNA evidence is ... but what's the point? Our defense is intent."
    Gutteridge said he may call only one witness, Dr. David Smith of San Francisco, whom he identified as an expert on the effect of methamphetamine on a chronic meth user's brain. Smith could not be reached by telephone Friday.
    According to a report issued last year by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, "Chronic use (of meth) can cause violent behavior, anxiety ... delusions and paranoia."
    The lawyer has asserted during the four-day trial that Malone had used and manufactured the homemade drug constantly in the two years before his arrest 16 months ago. That apparently would include time that Malone was assigned to Fire Station No. 3 in Duncan.
    Malone was fired from his city job in October 2003 - about three months before the trooper's slaying - after his fingerprints were found on drug paraphernalia found in the station house.
    On Thursday, the prosecution's final witness was Perry Unruh, Lawton-based deputy inspector for OSBI, who told how Malone confessed after he was arrested Dec. 27, 2003, south of Duncan.
    Unruh said his questioning of Malone lasted about 3 1/2 hours. It apparently took place in a high-security cell of the then-unopened new Stephens County Jail. Unruh said they sat on the floor, leaning up against the concrete walls, because the cell contained no furniture.
    The investigator said he told Malone that police already had his sister's car, which evidence showed was at the murder scene, the bag of his clothes found along Camelback Road, and interviews with three witnesses who said Malone told them he shot the trooper.
    "He (Malone) told me, 'if I say anything, I'm going to get the death penalty.'"
    Unruh said Malone had been read his rights: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to an attorney ..." - but didn't ask to see a lawyer until the early morning hours. That's when Unruh turned off his tape recorder and ended the interview, he said.
    At one point, Unruh said, Malone said, "It's like it didn't happen. If it was me, I don't remember."
    Later, he recorded Malone as saying, "Well, maybe it was an accident."
    The jury is expected to begin its deliberations on Monday afternoon. If it convicts Malone of first-degree murder, the jury will then hear testimony in a second phase of the trial before deciding among three sentencing options - life in prison, life imprisonment without a chance of parole, or death.

    Gaylord Shaw writes for The Duncan (Okla.) Banner.

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