After the murder trial which accused the caretaker of fatally assaulting an elderly man under his care, the jurors found themselves in a pat position on Wednesday evening.
The judge, Kendra Coleman, decided to declare a jury mistrial because they couldn’t make a unanimous verdict. She decided that the new trial will begin on August 26.
A seventy-year-old Michael Richard was admitted to ST. Anthony’s Hospital on December 14, 2017. He had severe bruises on his arms and hands, which were consistent with an assault.
The authorities identified Rocky Allen Rhines, Richard’s caretaker as a suspect. Rhines was employed about six months prior to the murder.
The caretaker admitted to causing the injuries in an interview that the police conducted. However, Rhines claimed that the injuries were made in self-defense. After Richard died due to injuries, on December 28, Rhines was charged with second-degree murder.
Assistant district attorney, Jeff Massey pointed to lack of Rhines’ injuries, in his closing arguments on Wednesday morning. He highlighted the 100-pound weight advantage as clear signs that Richard didn’t initiate the attack.
Also, there were no items tossed around the home, which would show any signs of a struggle ever occurring. Massey said that it is apparent that the victim died after he took a blow to the head. Moreover, the defendant himself admitted to striking Richard ten, twenty, even thirty times.
On the other hand, the defense claims that Richard had Alzheimer’s disease. They believe that the victim recently has undergone specific changes in his psychoactive dosage of medicines. This caused him to be paranoid and attack Rhines.
The defense attorney claimed that due to Richard’s poor health and age were significant factors which contributed to the amount of bruising.
Furthermore, Rocky Rhines spent six months as an exceptional caretaker, according to all accounts. Rhines caused no problems whatsoever. He dedicated himself to fulfilling each requirement, which was asked of him. These facts were the public defender’s main attributes during the closing argument.
Also, Patric Weingart stated that the investigators couldn’t find a valid motive for Rhines to deliberately take Richard’s life. He asked the jurors why would his client assault an older person for no reason whatsoever.
Rhines’ Immediate Actions After the Incident
The prosecutor raised some questions about the caretaker’s actions, which followed the incident. In a nutshell, instead of immediately calling 911, Rhines called Richard’s ex-wife, who happens to live just a couple of blocks away from the victim’s home.
After Rhines made the call, he started the car and drove away to his weekend residence in Perry. He didn’t respond to any calls from the investigators.
The defense attorney responded to these issues by saying that Rhines had no knowledge about the severeness of the injuries, instead of merely fleeing the scene.
Weingart added that it is highly unlikely that Rhines would just leave the house after such a vicious attack. He claims that his client would have called help, and told someone what had just occurred, if only he had the knowledge about the injuries.
The prosecutors appealed to the jurors to find Rhines guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and sentence him to no less than twenty years in prison.
In the state of Oklahoma, second-degree murder is a felony which is punishable by a minimum of ten years, while the maximum is life in prison.