Defendant's uncle worried about gun being in the house - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Defendant's uncle worried about gun being in the house

Richard Gagnon on trial for the murder of Brent Ryter. (Source: KTRE Staff) Richard Gagnon on trial for the murder of Brent Ryter. (Source: KTRE Staff)
KTRE staff KTRE staff
KTRE staff KTRE staff
LIVINGSTON, TX (KTRE) -

The murder trial of Richard Gagnon continued Wednesday morning, as the jury listened to a tape recording of Gagnon’s interview with police.

Gagnon is accused of shooting and killing his mother’s boyfriend, Brent Ryter in November of 2013. The arrest affidavit claimed Gagnon shot Ryter in the chest with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Gagnon’s murder trial started on Tuesday with opening statements from prosecuting attorney Joe Martin and continued with statements from Polk County Capt. Rickie Childers.

Childers continued his testimony from Tuesday saying that Gagnon and his mother came to the office the day after the shooting to give a voluntary statement.

Martin would next play the video statement of Gagnon for the jury and court to see.

In the video Gagnon told Childers that he told Ryter to stop hitting his mom and that’s when Ryter said, 'What are you going to do about it?”.

Gagnon told Childers that he had not seen any violence between Ryter and his mom, but he did see the two argue and saw marks on his mother’s body. Gagnon said he was ‘cool’ with him and that the two did meth with each other.

"I didn't like that my mom brought him into the house so soon [after my dad died] but I had to accept it," Gagnon said. "I guess my mom slipped up and told him the cops were called on him, and that's why she got hit," Gagnon said.

Childers would then show evidence to Martin from the room including a cigarette belonging to Ryter, a towel Ryter was holding, Ryter's shirt, a knife and a plastic shotgun wad that was covered in Ryter's blood.

Childers then would go through pictures from the scene.

"With the blood drops, he fell forward not backwards," Childers said. “There is no force behind them."

Childers said based on the position of Ryter's body that he believed Gagnon was lying about where he was standing.

Childers agreed with Martin that the shotgun was not an automatic ejection and that it had been pumped. Childers agreed that if the shot was accidental, Gagnon would not have pumped the gun for a second shot.

Childers said based on what they have been told, it was an odd place for the gun to be placed.

"He talks about how he kicked in the door, why would he kick in the door when he could open it," Childers said.

Martin asked if the shotgun caused bodily injury to Ryter, to which Childers agreed.

Defense attorney Tom Brown argued with Childers that he is making assumptions on how the blood came out of Ryter.

Brown argued that what Childers said did not back up how the blood got on the bed.

Childers said based on what they have been told, it was an odd place for the gun to be placed.

"He talks about how he kicked in the door, why would he kick in the door when he could open it," Childers said. "Why if he had the shotgun already when he entered the room."

Martin asked if the shotgun caused bodily injury to Ryter, to which Childers agreed.

Childers also told Brown that it is reasonable that hands could cause bodily injury.

Brown argued with Childers that he is making assumptions on how the blood came out of Ryter.

Brown argued that what Childers said did not back up how the blood got on the bed.

Brown asked Childers if anybody said the gun was not in the room or is Childers just deducing from what he thinks that the gun was not in there. Childers said that the statements he got were that the gun was in the room.

Brown would then show text messages between Detective Delaney and Gagnon. Brown would show an exchange where Gagnon wrote Delaney saying the Ryter was home and he needed to come quick to arrest him. The text is then followed by a text from Delaney that said, “we will get him tomorrow”.

Childers agreed with Brown’s statement, but said it does not show Delaney saying the arrest would happen tomorrow.

Brown then asked about the pocket knife. Childers said they recovered it during the autopsy.

Brown asked if Childers knew about meth found in the autopsy.

"He had meth in his system, but physically no sir," Childers said.

Martin asked if Childers saw any evidence on the scene that showed Ryter using deadly force.

"No sir," Childers said. "He had a towel in one hand and a cigarette in the other."

Childers said based on the injuries Gagnon's mother had, he has never charged someone with assault of a deadly weapon or aggravated assault.

"None of the physical evidence adds up to his story," Childers said. "He told so many different stories."

Brown then asked Childers how bad does someone have to get hurt before you can say the hands were capable of causing serious bodily injury.

"You have to have serious bodily injury first," Childers said.

Brown countered and said so you have to have serious injury before defending yourself.

Childers said he did not understand the question. Neither side had any more questions for Childers.?

Polk County detective Anthony Lowery would be the next one to answers questions.

Lowery told Martin that he had experience with Gagnon through his help with the sheriff's office. Lowery said Gagnon was snitching on local drug dealers.

Martin would also question Gagnon's uncle, John Penry.

Penry said he went to prison when Gagnon was seven and just got out right before the incident.

"There were some difficulties," Penry said. "He was having some drug issues and some things that go with it like theft. There was just general disrespect. I had general issues with him. He argued with her all the time."

Penry said one time he did get physical with him.

"He and his girlfriend were in a fight," Penry said. "She was trying to get to him, and his mom was trying to block him. I came up and thought she was trying to shove him, but I guess he was trying to push by. I perceived it as him pushing her, so I tackled him to the floor."

Penry said he was supposed to move into a room at Gagnon's house and to make sure he did not steal from him he put a lock on the room's door. Penry also said that he knew Gagnon's mom put a padlock on her door because of the theft concern.

Penry said Ryter and Gagnon's mother met on a family outing.

"It was a weekend trip and shortly after that, he ended up staying at our house," Penry said. "Initially I was hesitant of him and pretty quickly I liked him. Early on he was good to my sister. He treated her well. He talked about how he loved her. He sold me."

Penry said the drug issue caused problems in the house.

"One night a guy from Houston, named Popeye, came up here," Penry said. "In my mind they were trying to force Richard [Gagnon] into a white supremacist gang. I heard this from Popeye and when I spoke up he threatened me. It didn't help my view of Ryter."

Penry said he became aware of the shotgun after Gagnon's mother bought it.

"She said she bought it because people where threatening Richard because of the work he was doing," Penry said. I did not think it was a good idea. I am not a fan of guns. I don't think there good. I was concerned with his drug abuse. I don't think it was good for someone on drugs to have a gun. I told her it was not a good idea for there to be a gun. I told her it would not end well with the gun."

Penry said Gagnon was volatile in the sense of being harmful to himself. Penry also said he saw Gagnon several times with the gun and he would be showing off with the gun.

Penry recalled an incident where another family member got mad at Gagnon for firing the gun and then Gagnon making a statement of threat towards them . Penry said he took the remark as a sarcastic remark.

"Knowing him the way I know him, I don't think the comment was made in a malicious way," Penry said.

Martin asked if he ever told Childers that he thought Gagnon was a "piece of crap". Penry said yes he did.

Penry said that he knew Ryter and Gagnon's mother had conversations about him.

"BJ [Ryter] said [Gagnon] was dragging him down and needed to kick him out," Penry said. "But that was her baby and she was not going to go with that."

Penry continued and said he told Childers that he told Gagnon's mom that she needed to stop bailing him out.

Penry then went back to the day of the shooting. Penry said he was asleep when it happened.

"I could here her screaming and screaming," Penry said. "I knew something had happened. I got dressed and went out to see what happened."

Penry said when he went in the room he saw his sister Deborah and he knew it was either Ryter or Gagnon that got shot.

Penry said Gagnon was nervous.

"Part of him wanted to run and hide," Penry said. "I told him that's what not to do because I didn't feel like he had done anything maliciously wrong. He wanted to hide the gun but I said that's not a good idea."

Penry was called back to the drug situation.

"I was concerned about the drug use going on," Penry said. "I talked to the parole officer about it and we had a plan for me. Gagnon was supposed to go to a drug rehab program by the 12th. If he had not gone by then, then I was going to have to move."

Penry then told Brown that even though at one point he thought Gagnon should have been kicked out he did think that the shooting was not malicious.

Penry did tell Brown that he was a sleep and did not know what happened in the bedroom.

Martin asked if he had been told a version of what happened. Penry told Martin that he was told by Deborah and Gagnon what happened.

Gagnon's cousin, Corey Bean then answers questions.

Bean said that Ryter lived at her step-mothers home, but once Gagnon's mom told her about drug use between the two, he was kicked out.

Bean recalled an incident at Gagnon's mom's birthday.

"We were sitting around and I said, 'don't be talking mess to me,' and he said, 'girl, I'll shoot you.'"

Bean told Martin that looking back on it, it has made her feel uneasy.

Bean also said that Gagnon did approach her and her husband about buying the gun from him.

Bean would then tell Brown that she never saw Ryter when he was on drugs.

Bean also told Brown that he never saw Gagnon attack anyone.

Bean said that before he met Deborah, Ryter was out looking for a job.?

The trial came to a rest for the day, the state final witness will take the stand on Thursday. 

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