The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 10, 2013

Easter Sunday Ashtabula murder case bound over to grand jury

More disturbing details come out about that day

By SHELLEY TERRY - sterry@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — The make of the gun, knives and the terror felt by Easter Sunday church-goers the day Reshad Riddle is accused of killing his father surfaced at his  preliminary hearing Tuesday in Municipal Court.

City Solicitor Michael Franklin called three city police officers to the witness stand to share  their recollections of what occurred after Riddle allegedly shot Richard Riddle at point blank range outside of Hiawatha Church of God in Christ. Riddle has been charged with aggravated murder, having weapons under disability and carrying a concealed weapon.

After 45 minutes of testimony, Judge Albert Camplese said there was probable cause to send the case over to the Ashtabula County grand jury.

Riddle,  28,  who appeared

in shackles, an orange jail jumpsuit and a bullet-proof vest, sat at the defense table flanked by public defender Joseph Humpolick.

The first witness, Patrolman Jay Janek said when he arrived on the scene, the elder Riddle was on the ground bleeding profusely, with an obvious gunshot wound to the head.

“He was deceased,” Janek said.

Police found Reshad Riddle inside the church, standing at the podium, he said.

“He had the gun in the air,” Janek said. “He had several knives on him ... we later discovered the Koran on the podium.”

The second witness, Patrolman Thomas Clemens, said he was called to the church Easter Sunday for “a subject in the church waving a handgun.”

Upon arrival, he saw several people running from the church and several people crawling out the narrow windows.

“I pulled two children out of a window,” he said.

As Clemens sat on the witness stand describing the frantic church scene, Riddle calmly stroked his beard and smiled at a child sitting behind him in the courtroom. When Clemens was asked to identify the Easter Sunday shooter, Riddle gave Clemens a little wave.

Clemens testified that once officers transported Riddle to the city jail, they performed a Gunshot Residue Test on his hands.

“He admitted he used a Smith and Wesson .38 Special,” Clemens said. “He referred to the Koran and Allah, quoting passages.”

Upon cross-examination, Humpolick pushed for more details on Riddle’s statements.

Clemens said he wasn’t familiar with the Koran, but remembered Riddle had said he had “served his purpose.”

A third witness for the prosecution, Detective William Felt, said he was called into work at about 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Easter Sunday. His job was to interview Riddle at the Justice Center, he said.

“Riddle told me he shot his father with a Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver,” he said. “He said he wasn’t being respected by his father.”

Felt also said Riddle spoke about religious passages in the Koran.

Humpolick again pressed for details.

“He found solace in his religion after he shot his father,” Felt said.

With no further witnesses, Franklin entered two exhibits: a copy of the defendant’s past felony convictions, justifying the charge of having a weapon while under disability, and the sentencing from the conviction.

Humpolick called no witnesses, but moved to dismiss the case.

Camplese said the case will be bound over to the grand jury; Riddle will remain in jail on a $1 million bond.

Family members yelled, “Jesus loves you, Reshad,” as police led him back to his jail cell.