Home invasions testimony starts

Saturday, August 1, 2015

By MICHELLE

FRIEDRICH

Associate Editor

DONIPHAN, Mo. -- A Ripley County jury heard testimony Thursday afternoon regarding a 2013 home invasion, which left a couple hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

From a pool of 67, a jury of six men and seven women was seated at 1:40 p.m. Wednesday to hear the trial Rodney Joe Green, who, earlier in the day, had waived his right to be present for the trial.

The 42-year-old is being tried on three Class A felonies of first-degree assault, five unclassified felonies of armed criminal action, two Class A felonies of first-degree robbery, the Class B felony of first-degree burglary, the unclassified felonies of attempted forcible rape and forcible sodomy and the Class D felony of resisting arrest.

After being sworn in, the jury heard opening statements from Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Barbour and Green's attorney, Ted Liszewski with the Public Defender's Office.

Count by count, Barbour went through each of the charges Green faces as he outlined what the state's evidence would be.

Barbour said Green's alleged crimes started Feb. 1, 2013, with a home invasion at Rombauer and progressed to a home invasion at Fisk, followed by a break-in and sexual assault of a woman on Highway W.

Green, he said, was arrested Feb. 3, 2013, after he allegedly fled from a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper and crashed a suspected stolen vehicle.

Liszewski said there was "not a shred of physical evidence" to tie his client to the home invasions and no DNA evidence to tie him to the sexual assault.

Liszewski told the jury he wouldn't ask a "single question" regarding Green's resisting arrest as that would "insult your intelligence."

"When it's all said and done, I'll ask you find (Green) not guilty on several counts and guilty of a few counts," Liszewski said.

The state's first witness was Tony Walsh, who was shown a series of photos, which included his bloody door, which had visible bullets holes and the bloody injury to his left leg.

On the night of Feb. 1, 2013, Tony Walsh said, he was awakened by his daughter saying: "'Mommy needs you.'

"I heard a gunshot; I heard my wife screaming for me."

After getting up, Tony Walsh said, he went into living room, where he saw his son and daughter standing behind his wife, who was trying to shut the front door.

"I ran toward the door ...(Green) backed up, and she shut the door."

Gunshots subsequently were fired, and "I got shot," the witness said.

While Tony Walsh was laying in the floor, he said, Green opened the door and came inside.

"I remember him pointing the rifle at me," he said.

Green, he said, demanded the keys to his truck, which his wife, Chrystal, retrieved from their bedroom.

Once Green had the keys, the witness said, he left.

Tony Walsh said he didn't identify Green at "that point in time," but later he did.

The witness said he looked at several mugs shots "before I came across his picture. As soon as I seen ... those eyes."

On cross-examination, Liszewski asked if there was anything he could say or do to convince him Green was not the one who shot him.

"No ... that's what I know," said Tony Walsh, who indicated his daughter had never awakened him "like that" prior to the shooting.

"She has not awakened you like that since," Liszewski asked.

Tony Walsh answered yes, "if she hears a bump in the night."

Tony Walsh also confirmed no officers contacted him or asked him who had shot him.

The first to ask, he said, was Liszewski.

During the five days he was hospitalized, the witness denied watching TV, but indicated he was sleeping most of the time.

"I say you were traumatized," Liszewski said.

The witness indicated the incident "changed my life" and also confirmed it was a stressful.

When asked whether he could recall the shooter having any "funny tics," his clothing or any other characteristics, Tony Walsh said, he couldn't.

In identifying Green's mug shot, the witness said, he looked at several pages with 15 to 20 photos.

"I flipped through it ... it stood out," said Tony Walsh, who denied seeking "confirmation" from his wife on the photo.

When Tony Walsh showed it to his wife, he said, her "reaction was the same as mine."

Chrystal Walsh, who was visibly upset and crying when she took the witness stand and throughout her testimony, told the jurors about the damage caused by the gunshot to her right hand, particularly her middle finger, which no longer will lay flat.

The witness talked about the scarring and nerve damage she suffered and how she has no feeling in part of the finger.

On the night of the shooting, Chrystal Walsh said, her daughter came into the bedroom, saying someone was at the door.

"I sent her back to her room," the witness said. "I went to the door, and she followed me. I didn't know that at the time."

When Chrystal Walsh asked who it was, she said, a man "said his truck was broke down and his kids were with him."

The witness said she grabbed her cellphone and when she opened the door to give the man the phone, "he shoved the door open.

"He put the barrel" of the gun in her face.

"I took a step back; he stepped in," Chrystal Walsh said. " ... He screamed: 'Give me the keys to the truck.'"

At that point, the witness said, she thought "this wasn't happening. Then, my daughter screamed. That's when I snapped."

Chrystal Walsh said she and the man, she identified as Green, "wrestled with the rifle. I pointed it down to the side. He fired."

The witness, who was unable to get traction on her hardwood floor, then attempted to close the door.

As her husband was running toward the door, Green "stepped back, and I was able to shut the door," she said.

The next three shots were "all (fired) immediately," said the witness, who indicated she got a "good look" at the shooter.

Chrystal Walsh said she spoke with several officers that night, including Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs.

At one point, the witness said, a deputy showed her Green's picture.

"I freaked out," she said. "I tried to climb out ... of the ambulance."

When asked about her husband's injuries, the witness said, he can't use his muscles, can't run, and he limps.

On cross-examination, Liszewski asked if there was anything he could say or do to convince her Green was not the one who shot him.

"He was the one who shot me," Chrystal Walsh reiterated multiple times.

Even if the jury says someone else could have been the shooter, "I'm going to say he shot me," Chrystal Walsh told Liszewski.

When asked about being awakened from what Liszewski described as a "dead sleep," the witness said, she wasn't sleeping that soundly.

Anyone who has children, she said, never sleeps "very hard."

Chrystal Walsh again told of how when Green "pushed the door open, the gun was in my face."

The witness said she told officers the shooter was about her height and weight.

Chrystal Walsh confirmed she was terrified and stressed, but also indicated "I was more in shock. It was surreal; it wasn't happening to me."

Liszewski also asked multiple questions regarding statements the witness had made regarding the shooter having "sandy blond" hair and later "strawberry blond" hair.

The witness said the shooter was wearing a hat and didn't recall any other details, such as hair color or distinguishing marks.

"I was looking at his face ... his eyes," she said.

When asked if she was scared for her life, Chrystal Walsh said, it wasn't her life she was thinking about.

"I was thinking about my children and Tony," said the witness, who confirmed she was focused on protecting her family.

When asked to tell the jury about the pain she suffered, the witness said, she didn't feel the pain until "after. At the time, I was in shock. It's didn't register.

"Everything that happened ... my husband hit the floor. His blood was pouring out everywhere."

Chrystal Walsh said she was concerned about her husband as she "didn't know if he was going to die."

Regarding her children, "whether they saw everything, they heard everything," she said, "they are traumatized. My daughter, to this day, is terrified."

Before consenting to treatment, the witness said, she talked with her children.

"I was calm," she said. "They saw the wound. I told them I was fine. They knew I was standing; everything was OK."

Chrystal Walsh said she made sure her children were cared for and had an officer carry them to the house.

"I was walking, talking; I was fine," she said. "Physically, I was damaged.

"Everything was in place before I went to the ER."

As Liszewski continued to question the witness about focusing on her family and not recalling details about the shooter, she said, she felt "like I'm being attacked."

Regarding her identification of Green's photo, the witness was adamant Dobbs was in the ambulance with her when another officer showed her his picture on a cellphone.

Chrystal Walsh said her husband was flipping through photos when he said: "'Babe, look, who's that.'"

The witness said her husband wasn't seeking confirmation, but asked the question as when someone knows the other person already knows the answer.

On the night of the shooting, Dobbs said, he contacted Chrystal Walsh in the ambulance and requested a photo of Green, as his truck was found near the Walsh home and there was an "active shooter" on the loose.

Dobbs said Chrystal Walsh had an "instant, spontaneous reaction. She was emotional; she dropped her head and cried a little bit."

Dobbs described Chrystal Walsh, whose finger was dangling, as having her "faculties pretty well given the circumstances."

When Barbour asked why one photo was used for identification versus a photo lineup, Dobbs said, Air Evac was inbound to pick Chrystal Walsh up, and "we had an active shooter out and about."

Dobbs confirmed one photo was used as it was an emergency and had the circumstances been different, the ID would have been done differently.

On cross-examination, Liszewski questioned Dobbs extensively regarding using only one photo and having probable cause to find and stop the stolen truck and its driver.

Dobbs said he requested Green's photo because of his truck being parked down the road from the Walsh home.

Dobbs confirmed a photo was not needed to look for the truck or its driver.

A multiphoto lineup, Dobbs said, is best, if done correctly.

Dobbs reiterated he requested a photo to show Chrystal Walsh, but did "not know who physically showed it."

Reading from his preliminary hearing testimony, Dobbs said, he responded: "I showed the photo" in answering a question from Barbour.

Dobbs said that was a "general response" as he had someone show her the photo.

Liszewski further questioned why Dobbs didn't have a photo lineup complied, and then, he or one of his officers take it to the Walshes at their hospitals or request assistance from another agency in the respective cities.

Dobbs said time was a factor as Chrystal Walsh was to be flown to a St. Louis hospital, and her husband wasn't stable and would undergo surgery at a Cape Girardeau hospital.

Liszewski said using photo of "who you don't think it is" should not happen and having the sheriff show up at 2:30 a.m. with a photo would be improperly suggestive.

Dobbs described Chrystal Walsh as an appearing to be an "honest woman. If that was not the person, she would have said so."

Dobbs said he was unaware no deputy had spoken with or taken a statement from Tony Walsh as "he was already gone" before the sheriff arrived at the scene.

"Ideally, you would think that would have been covered," he said.

Liszewski also asked whether someone focusing on a weapon or being stressed, injured or awakened could effect a person making an identification.

"It could," said Dobbs, who indicated the home invasion didn't meet the criteria for activation of the county's Major Case Squad. He also said he could have called in the patrol for assistance.

Butler County Investigator Wes Popp testified he recovered one shell casing inside the Walsh home and three outside, all in close proximity to the front door.

A Chevrolet pickup, Popp said, was found parked near the Walsh home and the Walshes' Dodge pickup was found at Tom Parsons' home on County Road 6263.

Popp said the Dodge's keys were found inside it.

At the ER, Popp said, he seized two Chevrolet keys, a house key and another copied key from Green, who was being treated after he crashed another suspected stolen vehicle.

The Chevrolet keys, according to Popp, opened the door and turned the ignition on the truck found at the Walsh home.

On cross-examination, Liszewski went through several exhibits, which had been sent to the patrol's Crime Lab for testing.

In reading the lab report, Popp said, a female profile, consistent with the victim was found on the sexual assault kit. Green, he read, was eliminated.

Green's clothing items, which Popp seized at the hospital were found to be positive for blood, and the DNA profile was consistent with Green, but not his alleged sexual assault victim, Popp read.

It was Popp's "understanding" there had been an alleged altercation between Green and the woman.

According to the lab report, Popp said, no semen or blood were detected on a wash cloth seized from the woman's home.

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