Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

June 19, 2013

Cogdill duped, defense attorney argues

Evidence will show that Nico Cogdill did not kill Richard “Ricky” Eugene Warren and was lured to Warren’s home under false pretenses, Cogdill’s defense attorney Patrick Barkman said during Tuesday’s opening arguments in the 18th District Court.

Johnson County Assistant District Attorney Martin Strahan countered that evidence offered will prove that Cogdill in fact landed the first of many blows that resulted in the Sept. 21, 2011 death of Warren, 48, adding that Cogdill never knew of nor met Warren before the night in question.

Cogdill is on trial for capital murder and faces an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if found guilty.

Prosecutors allege that Cogdill, 23, of Cleburne, along with Chad Bukowski, 26, of Burleson, and Paul Milne, 27, of Cleburne, entered Warren’s home in Rio Vista that night intending to steal property to sell for drugs, and to kill Warren to help Cogdill and Milne become prospects for the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a white supremacist prison gang.

Jurors in November found Bukowski guilty of capital murder and sentenced him to life in prison without parole. Milne’s trial hasn’t been scheduled.

Prosecutors won one early skirmish involving the alleged murder weapon. Barkman objected to Strahan’s request to display a large crescent wrench to jurors during opening arguments.

“That would be unduly inflammatory to be waving the alleged murder weapon around,” Barkman said.

Strahan argued that the wrench would simply be demonstrative as opposed to actual evidence and further argued that prosecutors will introduce and believe the wrench will be admitted into evidence during the course of the trial.

18th District Court Judge John Neill overruled Barkman’s objection and allowed the wrench to be shown.

Strahan, during opening arguments, said evidence offered will show that Cogdill, Bukowski and Milne broke into Warren’s home and that Cogdill hit Warren in the head with the wrench while Warren was asleep in bed.

Evidence will show, Strahan said, that Cogdill and Milne had never met Warren, but went to his house at the behest of Bukowski with the intention of robbing and killing him.

Bukowski, according to evidence entered in his November trial, lived with Warren for a while before being asked to move out after Warren’s sister and mother suspected him of stealing.

Video and written statements by Cogdill, who remained on the run for several days after Warren’s death before turning himself in, will help prove his guilt, Strahan said. Blood and DNA evidence from Cogdill and Warren found on the wrench and Cogdill’s T-shirt later found at Bukowski’s house along with items stolen from Warren’s house, will also be introduced, Strahan said.

Awoken by barking dogs, Warren’s sister, Michelle Adams, who lives in a house on the same piece of property, entered Warren’s trailer to find him laying on the floor in his bedroom in a pool of blood with his brains spilled out, Strahan said.

“Ricky Warren started that night asleep in his bed and was bludgeoned to death with a crescent wrench,” Strahan said. “Awoken to [Cogdill] standing over him, a man he had never met before, never seen before.

“All [three] had a hand in what happened that night, but [Cogdill] threw the first blow.”

Cogdill pleaded not guilty after the reading of his indictment and before opening arguments.

“The evidence will show that these three were at the home of Ricky Warren that night,” Barkman said during opening arguments. “But will also show that Bukowski was the brains, and I use that term loosely, behind that.”

Barkman characterized Bukowski, whom Cogdill and Milne apparently met only shortly before Warren’s death, as a thug, liar, drug dealer, wannabe and poser.”

Bukowski, Barkman argued, needed a lift and told Cogdill and Milne that Warren was his friend and that they could go to his house and get money and do drugs.

“What [Bukowski] doesn’t tell them, because they had just met him, is that Bukowski had been kicked out because Warren’s family was sick of him sponging off of [Warren] and taking advantage of him.”

Cogdill soon enough realized that Bukowski intended to rob, not hang out with Warren, Barkman argued.

Barkman also dismissed notions that Cogdill planned to kill Warren to join the Aryan Brotherhood.

“Bukowski is a poser who likes people to think he’s hooked up with powerful people and knows them,” Barkman said. “Let’s be clear. Warren is the victim in this and didn’t deserve his fate. The evidence will not show any angels in this case, but the evidence will show that this was Bukowski’s idea and he lied to [Cogdill and Milne]. The evidence will show that Nico didn’t kill anybody, didn’t plan to kill anybody and didn’t rob or steal.”

Prosecutors opened by playing the 911 call made by Adams to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

“Blood all over and on the floor and his head’s wide open,” Adams screams. “We need an ambulance. You need to hurry.”

Adams, on the call, tells the dispatch operator she saw two figures running either toward or away from Warren’s trailer or towards the woods. Adams frequently becomes incoherent during the call. Adams said it was too dark to make the suspects out.

Adams tells the operator that Warren is barely breathing. Several minutes later she screams Ricky three times.

“He’s not breathing anymore,” Adams says. “Oh my God hurry. His head and face is all gashed in. Help me. No! He’s dead.”

The operator and a second operator from CareFlite on the line tell Adams to remain calm several times and talk her through performing CPR on her brother until help arrives.

“Ricky please come back,” Adams screams several times.

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