NEWPORT — Kenneth Rickard, the man who allegedly shot at the woman he kept in his basement as a “caretaker,” is leaving the Sullivan County House of Corrections after his attorney, Gary Apfel, argued that he is not safe in the jail.
“I’m convinced that if he’s not transferred he’s going to die in that facility,” Apfel told Sullivan County Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker during a bail hearing on Monday.
Rickard, 81, of 105 Springfield Road, is in failing health and has been hospitalized several times since his July 1 arrest, Apfel said. He’s taken serious falls that have resulted in head injuries and a dislocated hip that went undiagnosed for two days, according to Apfel. He is also suffering from malnutrition and isolation in the jail, and he may be showing signs of dementia, Apfel told Tucker.
Rickard had been held in the county jail since the July shooting after he was found to be a danger to himself and others. Assistant Sullivan County Attorney Justin Hersh told Tucker that Rickard is still a danger to the public at large and to himself, despite his medical condition.
“(Rickard’s) behavior is very concerning,” Hersh said. “He does what he wants to do when he wants to do it.”
Hersh went through a litany of abusive behavior Rickard has allegedly exhibited against the alleged victim, including more than one sexual assault allegation. Rickard has also allegedly physically assaulted the woman and driven at high speeds when he appeared impaired, Hersh said.
During Hersh’s recitation of the facts of the case, Rickard appeared to be listening and shook his head and body “no” during some portions of the recitation, specifically when Hersh quoted the alleged victim’s statements to police.Apfel is not seeking a competency evaluation at this time, as he thinks Rickard may be competent to stand trial as laid out under New Hampshire law. Though he is unable to always communicate clearly, Apfel told Tucker that Rickard appears to understand the case, and he had been able to assist in his own defense. During Monday’s hearing, Rickard would hit the table to get Apfel’s attention and then he would whisper in his attorney’s ear. Apfel told Tucker he was not always sure what Rickard was trying to say.
“My impression is that there is a working mind trapped in a body that can’t communicate,” Apfel said.
Tucker is allowing for Rickard to go to the nursing home, which is adjacent to the county jail in Unity. It is an unsecured facility, though Rickard is wheelchair-bound and unable to push himself, Apfel said. He is ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim, not possess any firearms, and stay at the nursing home except for medical and court appointments.
Rickard is accused of shooting at the woman who he reportedly kept living in his basement, paying her in cigarettes and beer to be his “caregiver,” according to the affidavit filed in the case.
“Kiss me goodbye,” Kenneth Rickard reportedly said to his wife, Nancy Rickard, before he headed out to his car where he confronted the caregiver about her love life, according to the affidavit.
Nancy Rickard told police the woman had been living with them for four years. Nancy Rickard was unhappy with the arrangement, according to the affidavit.
According to Newport police, the woman accused Kenneth Rickard of sexual assault in December. That case stalled when the woman stopped cooperating, according to the affidavit.On the morning of the shooting, Kenneth Rickard reportedly pulled a .25 caliber pistol out of the glove compartment of his car, and accused the woman, in the driver’s seat, of having a boyfriend, according to the affidavit. She ran and he fired the gun, according to the affidavit. Nancy Rickard, in a wheelchair, confronted her husband, who was by this time in a scooter in the driveway. He allegedly fired again at the woman before the gun jammed and his wife took it away following a brief struggle, according to the affidavit.
Nancy Rickard hid the gun until police arrived, the affidavit states.Rickard is charged with one count of reckless conduct with a deadly weapon and one count of criminal threatening with a deadly weapon The case is now headed for trial in December.