Passmore convicted on burglary charge, acquitted on other counts

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comApril 2, 2014 

— Ricky Passmore went to his ex-wife’s house with a sword last summer to send a message.

On Tuesday, after two hours of deliberating, a jury returned with a message of its own.

Guilty.

Charged with breaking into his ex-wife’s Clover home while wielding a “samurai-style” sword in pursuit of her black boyfriend, Ricky Passmore, 46, learned Tuesday night in a York County courtroom he will spend the next 30 years in prison after jurors found him guilty of burglary. He was acquitted of kidnapping, criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

“I don’t know what to say,” he told Circuit Court Judge John Hayes after the verdict. “The only thing I tried to do is protect my children.”

Earlier in the day, Ricky Passmore took the stand, telling jurors that he never intended to kill “Chip,” the boyfriend, and berating prosecutors for trying to depict him as racist. He only dislikes black people who hurt white people, he said, and only wanted Chip to stay away from his three children because of what he called “street thug” friends. Still, on cross-examination from prosecutors, Ricky Passmore said things would have gotten dicey with Chip “if it had to come to that.”

At about 5 a.m. June 19, police were sent to Julia Coleman’s Trinity Street home in Clover after a neighbor reported that a man broke into the home with a sword, police testified. The call came at the request of one of Ricky Passmore’s sons after he said his father threw his mother onto a couch and threatened her with a sword he pulled from behind his overalls. Micky Passmore is accused of following his brother into the house, but prosecutors concede that he did not harm Coleman or force her to stay on the couch.

York police later stopped the Passmore brothers in a car on U.S. 321 eight miles outside of Clover. Inside the car, police found the sword, a bayonet attached to a loaded shotgun, a bladed paint scraper, a baseball bat, rope and a homemade mace-like weapon fashioned from a pool ball tied to a pool stick. They also found a pair of brass knuckles inside Ricky Passmore’s pocket.

Tuesday, Ricky Passmore’s 16-year-old daughter testified that her father called the pool ball weapon an “N-word beater.” Between sobs, she told jurors that she recorded a phone conversation they had five hours before he came to her house because her father said he planned to do something that would cause his children to hate him for years. On the stand, Coleman said she banned Ricky Passmore from going to her house about two weeks before he showed up with a sword, telling her “you move, you die.”

Their 10-year-old son testified that he remembered his father running into his room, turning on the light while he was asleep and shouting to his son that he let an “(N-word)” in his house.

But Ricky Passmore denied roaming from room-to-room shouting for his children, stressing that his son opened the door and let him inside. He said he knew Chip wasn’t at the house, but he showed the sword because he wanted Coleman and his kids to relay the message that Chip to stay away from his kids. He told the jury he felt Chip gave his daughter unwanted attention and emasculated his 14-year-old son.

Police found the brass knuckles in his pockets because he used the knuckles to shatter blocks of ice. He said the “pool ball mace, like the gladiators use” had been placed in the car some days before the incident. He fashioned it seven years ago for Coleman to use as protection when she went to the grocery store alone at night.

Prompted by Dan Hall, his York County public defender, Ricky Passmore said the gun belonged to Micky Passmore, who kept it in a car. Hall pressed Coleman and her daughter about Ricky Passmore’s boisterous, oftentimes elaborate behavior, leading them to both admit that he often makes “propaganda” statements.

Coleman, Ricky Passmore said, was never in danger. In the decade they were together, “she gave me every reason to ring her bell and I hadn’t done it.” More, if he wanted Coleman to remain seated on the couch, “I could’ve accomplished that,” he said. “I would not have needed help” from his brother. He was motivated to action by his children, who often complained that they did not like Chip and didn’t want him in their home, he said.

“If I had to meet this man face-to-face in order to protect my children, that’s what I would do,” Ricky Passmore said. Had Chip been at the house, “what would have or have not happened was up to Chip.”

During closing arguments, Hall told jurors Coleman was a “mad woman” who sought charges against her ex to accomplish a “redneck divorce.” Going to her home with a sword in hand was “another redneck way of communicating,” he said. He criticized prosecutors for placing a 10-year-old on the stand, saying the boy testified about a police statement his mother wrote for him.

“(Ricky Passmore) had no intent to go in and commit a crime,” Hall said. “In a redneck way, he was sending a message: Don’t come near my children.”

While playing audio clips of Ricky Passmore’s racially charged phone call with his daughter, Christopher Epting, one of two 16th Circuit solicitors who prosecuted Ricky Passmore, implored the jury to use common sense when deciding their verdict, stressing that the York man went to the home early in the morning armed with a sword and several other weapons planning to kill Chip and Coleman.

Jurors deliberated for more than two hours before returning a guilty verdict on the burglary. During sentencing, Hall asked Hayes, the judge, to give Ricky Passmore, a convicted sex offender, a 15-year prison sentence. But after listening to Passmore’s extensive criminal record – which includes convictions for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, breaking and entering, driving under the influence, failure to register as a sex offender and second-degree criminal sexual conduct – Hayes gave a stricter sentence. Ricky Passmore was on his third strike under state law.

After court, Ricky Passmore’s family members gathered outside and wept. Micky Passmore, whose burglary charges are pending, said his brother “just got slayed in a courtroom.”

“Thirty years of his life gone, and they never told him not to come in,” he said, questioning “how York County can give this man 30 years when a door was opened for him.”

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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