BENTONVILLE -- Eyes in the courtroom turned to a woman as she entered the room and, with a little help, walked on her prosthetic legs to the witness stand. Bandages covered the ends of her amputated arms.
The woman smiled before Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Carrie Dobbs began asking her questions. She answered in a loud and clear voice, and there were even moments of laughter from her.
She was the last witness called Wednesday afternoon by prosecutors in the trial of Charles Allen Rickman, 31, of Gentry. Rickman sat across the room at a table with his attorneys and showed no reaction to the woman's entrance or her testimony.
Rickman is charged with aggravated residential burglary, kidnapping, two counts of rape and battery. He's accused of beating and raping the woman, when she was 69 years old, so severely that portions of her legs and arms had to be amputated.
Rickman could receive four sentences ranging from 10 to 40 years or life in prison if he's convicted of aggravated residential burglary, kidnapping and two counts of rape. He will be sentenced to five to 20 years if convicted of battery.
Rickman took the stand Wednesday after the woman told jurors what she remembered about the early morning hours of Oct. 3. She testified she was awakened at 1:30 a.m. by a knock on her door by a man who claimed he had car trouble and needed to use her cellphone.
She had lived in the area for more than 20 years and opened the door only because she thought someone needed her help. She said she gave the man her phone and he forced his way into her home.
"He grabbed me from behind," she said. "He was really strong."
The man covered her eyes before he removed her clothes and took her to the bedroom, she testified. He tied up her hands and feet and raped her. The woman said she could feel the man hitting her in the back with what she believes was a cord.
The man threatened to kill her twice during the five hours he was with her, she testified.
"I was scared if I fully did not cooperate that he would kill me," the woman said.
Dr. Donna Johnson, a general surgeon at Mercy Hospital in Rogers, testified earlier Wednesday that the woman's injuries could have led to life-threatening infections so it was necessary to remove her hands and feet. Amputations were done in two surgeries, Johnson said.
Johnson said the woman had 15 to 25 surgical procedures and was discharged Dec. 30 to a rehabilitation facility.
The woman described herself as an active person before her attack, using a push mower to take care of her lawn, volunteering and working five days a week at Care and Share Inc. in Gravette.
She said she loved her missionary work and had traveled to at least 10 countries to help others.
The woman said she couldn't recognize her attacker. She met Rickman when she hired Eric Burchette to paint her house. Burchette hired Rickman to help him with the job and he introduced them.
The jury watched a recording where Rickman confessed to detectives he raped her.
"Are you a monster?" Susanne Matthews, a detective with the Benton County sheriff's office, asked Rickman at the beginning of the interview.
Rickman admitted to using methamphetamine and drinking alcohol Oct. 2, but he only remembered "bits and pieces" about beating and raping the woman.
Rickman cried loudly throughout the interview and admitted going to the woman's house Oct. 3 and claiming to have car trouble. Rickman said he forced his way into her home, blindfolded her, took her to her bedroom and raped her.
He told detectives he didn't plan to kill the woman and didn't give any explanation for the attack.
After prosecutors rested their case, Rickman took the stand. He was the only witness to testify in his defense.
He said the day before the attack he started drinking malt liquor beer after he finished working and bought a little more than a quarter of a gram of methamphetamine.
Once home he said he smoked and snorted the meth. He said he typically didn't use that amount of the drug and denied that he was a meth addict.
He said he couldn't remember the 22-mile drive to the woman's house, but he kind of remembered being at the woman's door.
"I don't remember pushing the door open," Rickman said.
Rickman said he remembered wrapping a cloth around the woman's eyes.
"What happened next?" Lee Warden, one of Rickman's attorneys, asked.
Rickman paused a few moments and said the woman was naked, but he didn't remember taking the woman's clothes off. He remembered walking the woman upstairs to her bedroom. He said he put the woman on the bed and had sex with her.
He said he remembers "spanking" the woman with a belt and abusing her with an object.
"I don't remember much after that," he said. "I remember like coming out of daze."
At one point Rickman referred to the crime as an accident.
"I was so out of it on drugs that I was not in the right frame of mind," he said.
Both sides rested their cases Wednesday.
The trial will continue this morning.
State Desk on 07/12/2018
Print Headline: Amputee tells jurors of attack, rape; Sides rest in trial of Gentry man accused of October assault of woman in her home