After seven days of maintaining his composure, Ricky Ray Malone’s emotions were on full display Tuesday during his re-sentencing trial at the Comanche County Courthouse in Lawton. The perceived value of his life was the main thread in all testimonies Tuesday afternoon.
As Malone’s aunt recalled his awkwardness as a child, a smile broke across his face. During his oldest son’s testimony, seeing his son break down and hearing him plead for his life, Malone sobbed lightly and wiped tears from his eyes.
“It (Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Nik Green’s murder) destroyed my life,” Randy Ray Malone said before he broke down on the stand. “I have a son and daughter that can’t see their grandfather.”
Not biologically Ricky Malone’s son, Randy Malone referred to him as his dad. Ricky Malone adopted Randy Malone and his two siblings after he married Mary Beth Malone, their mother.
“He gave my mom what she wanted, love,” Randy Malone said. “It was the first time I had a dad in a long time.”
After Ricky and Beth Ann Malone’s divorce, Randy Malone chose to live with his father. During his stay with his father, he began to notice subtle changes to his father’s character and appearance.
“I saw him start to break down as an individual,” he said. “His weight began to fluctuate.”
When asked by District Attorney Frank Smith if his father’s life had value he responded, “All life has value, especially my dad’s.”
Karen George, Ricky Malone’s maternal aunt, testified about his environment as a child. Even though his family wasn’t rich, she said, they loved one another. She said after Malone had became an adult, she always made it a point to visit him when she was in Duncan.
“He took it all on,” she said. “He devoted himself to everything he did.”
When Malone’s mother died in April 2002, it not only affected him, but also his two sisters. It affected them so much all three began using methamphetamines. The oldest sister, Tammy Sturdevant, was already using meth. “I didn’t allow myself to see Rick’s (Malone’s) addiction,” she said.
“When I saw the tape I hated Rick,” she said referring to the dashcam video obtained from Green’s vehicle. “I had to convince myself that the Rick I saw on the video was not the boy or man I know.”
His sisters reported that mental illness, mostly depression, ran rampant in their family. They said numerous family members had suffered from depression and were even treated.
During the morning session a litany of former coworkers and colleagues took the stand to establish Malone’s pre-drug character and integrity.
The main objective for Malone’s defense, it appeared, was to shift the perception of him. His extensive drug use and numerous run-ins with law enforcement were firmly established by DA Smith during the prosecution’s arguments.
The apparent goal of Matthew Haire and Gary Henry, Malone’s defense attorneys, was to shine a light on his positive civil work history. Each witness offered recollections of Malone and his work ethic.
Smith, just as he has done with most of the defense’s witnesses, disarmed and discredited the witnesses. To each he described the secret life Malone was leading that included using illegal drugs, abusing a handicap man, and being arrested on a complaint of spousal abuse. His main message, it seemed, was Malone was able to deceive them.
Tension mounted in the courtroom when Malone’s former mother-in-law, Mary Ann Sturdevant, made her way to the stand. Malone married Sturdevant’s daughter, Colleen in 2001, a year after he and his first wife divorced.
During Smith’s questioning, tension nearly boiled over. When Smith asked Sturdevant if she was aware of Malone’s charge of spousal abuse, a candid Sturdevant responded, “all I cared about was my daughter and grandson. I am testifying on my experiences, not your commentary.”
“Ma’am, I hope this doesn’t get ugly,” Smith said.
During the course of the questioning, Sturdevant answered questions regarding Malone’s involvement with her daughter. “I never suspected drugs, Rick didn’t even smoke cigarettes,” she said.
Tommy Norman, a City of Duncan firefighter, described the initial incident when Malone’s ex-wife’s infidelity became common knowledge in the fire department.
He said Malone’s direct superior was caught having sex with his wife on city property by a City of Duncan employee. He said Malone chose not to intervene physically. When asked if Malone could have physically handled his wife’s extra partner, he responded with a definite yes. Malone instead sought Norman’s help. Norman was the president of the union for the firefighters.
A friend of Malone, Robert Yates, took the stand before recess. Friends since junior high, he described a relationship with Malone that harkened back to their upbringing.
“We both came from the wrong side of the track,” he said.
He said Malone’s first divorce “devastated him.”
“He was devastated,” he said. “He said he would like to whoop the other guy’s tail, but was told he would lose his job.”
Three days before Oklahoma Highway Trooper Nik Green’s murder, Yates claims he spoke with Malone in a restaurant in Duncan. He said Malone appeared disheveled. After talking to him for more than an hour, he concluded Malone was in need of help.
“He said he looked in a mirror a few days before that and his reflection was talking to him,” Yates said. “He was saying all kinds of crazy talk.”
Concerned for his long-time friend, Yates said he offered to take him to his pastor to pray with him, to which Malone declined.
“I thought it was mental illness or something,” he said. “He kept telling me to pray for him.”
Days later Malone gunned down Green as Green prayed for his life.
Ricky Ray Malone’s re-sentencing trial will continue at 9 a.m. today at the Comanche County Courthouse in Lawton.
— David Laughlin is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. He can be reached at 580-255-5354, Ext. 160, or via e-mail at email@example.com.