PRESTONSBURG – Ronnie Hall, 49, appeared in Floyd County District Court on Wednesday before Judge Jimmy Marcum for a preliminary hearing. Hall is charged with two counts of murder for the April 15 shooting of Rodney Keith Whitaker, 34, of Hueysville, and Daniel Ronnie Harvil, 30, also of Hueysville. Hall is also accused of injuring Ricky Goble, 51, of Hueysville.
Police testimony during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing say witnesses describe hearing an altercation before hearing gunshots. Kentucky State Police Detective William Petry took the stand to describe what eyewitnesses say occurred the night of the shooting.
“From the time the truck pulled in and people went upstairs, within 30 seconds a commotion occurred and they thought there was a big fight going on, then they started hearing gun fire,” said Petry.
Hall’s attorney Ned Pillersdorf questioned the detective.
“Is the physical altercation he described was three people coming into this man’s house and beating him? Is this the altercation you described?
Petry described witness testimony.
“He tells me he met two men coming down the steps and Mr. Hall grabbing a gun and they got into it and the gun hit the floor,” said Petry.
Although witness testimony say they heard gunfire, no one says they witnessed the actual shooting.
Hall’s neighbor Maxine Goble took the witness stand to describe what she witnessed the night of the shooting.
“I saw Ronnie Hall with blood on his shirt. He appeared to have been beaten pretty badly,” said Goble. “I saw a grey Volunteer fire truck outside and a bunch of guys standing on the balcony. We heard gunfire that made us get up and look out the window. We saw three guys running down the stairs. Two guys went to the truck. Ricky Goble came down the stairs alone.”
Hall’s attorney Ned Pillersdorf says Hall should not be charged with murder based on Kentucky State Law Statute 503.055.
The statute is as follows: “503.055 use of defensive force regarding dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle –
(1)A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:(a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcibly entering or had unlawfully and forcibly entered a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and (b)The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
(2)The presumption set forth in subsection (1) of this section does not apply if: (a)The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner ,lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person;(b)The person sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of the person against whom the defensive force is used; (c)The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further an unlawful activity; or(d) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a peace officer, as defined in KRS 446.010, who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling,
residence, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties, and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a peace officer.
(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a felony involving the use of force.
(4)A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.”
Family members of the deceased were in court and offered no comment.
Pillersdorf asked Judge Marcum to set a reasonable bond as Hall has no previous criminal record and cannot afford much for a cash bond. Marcum agreed to take the request into consideration as he contemplates a suitable bond for Hall. The case has been referred to the Floyd County Grand Jury. Hall remains in custody at the Floyd County Jail.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8506.