By Liz Brewer
ADA — Jurors heard Ricky Jo Simmons’ 1982 video taped rape and murder confession Monday, at the retrial of Glen Gore for first degree murder of Debra Sue Carter. Attorneys for Gore hope the confession will raise doubt of his guilt. Gore could receive a death sentence, if found guilty.
Gore’s retrial was ordered by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals because appellate judges held the opinion he was denied a fair trial when defense was not allowed to present evidence of an alternate suspect. The Simmons’ tape was not heard in the first trial, nor was the defense allowed to point a finger at Ron Williamson. The retrial is under way at Pontotoc County District Court with Judge Thomas Landrith presiding.
Believing he did something wrong, Simmons told investigators he was on acid and was mad at his brother the night Carter died. “I believe I did something out of anger,” he said one day after Carter’s murder.
Simmons said he rode and slept in Carter’s car that night. However, he didn’t think she knew he was in the backseat. He contradicted himself when he said she offered him a ride, but he thought her car was a tan 1977 Olds Cutlass or a maroon 1975 Camaro. Simmons couldn’t say for sure if he stabbed her, but said he may have.
“I asked her if she believed in the Lord and she said ‘Yes’, and then I killed her,” he said. Simmons said he did not know if he strangled her with his bare hands or used a rope in her living room. He said he heard a voice telling him to “Do it, do it.”
On the taped interview, the investigators said they did not believe Simmons killed Carter and offered to get him psychiatric help, to which he agreed.
“I think it helped us (the prosecution) more than them (the defense),” referring to the taped confession,” said Prosecuting Attorney Richard M. Wintory.
Jean Baxter testified Gore needed a place to stay temporarily, so she allowed him to sleep on her couch for two or three weeks.
“It was long before the holidays in 1982,” she said.
Gore stood at one point, supplying questions to his attorney, David D. Smith, to get Baxter to recall Thanksgiving dinner that year. Smith asked if she remembered serving turkey to Gore and his boss from Harold’s bar, but she denied Gore was there or that his boss ever had dinner at her house.
Gore’s alibi for Dec. 7, 1982, the night Carter was killed, was that he spent the night at Baxter’s house.
Donna Walker, manager of Love’s Country Store on Mississippi in 1982, said she remembered Fritz and Williamson were regular customers at Love’s for several months before Carter’s death. Walker testified that Fritz and Williamson came into the store at 7 a.m. and hung around for at least half an hour drinking coffee every morning.
Chris Ross, assistant district attorney, pointed out to Baxter, Fritz was teaching school at Noble at the time, more than 58 miles northwest of Ada. He asked her how Fritz could make it to school on time if he was drinking coffee until 7:30 a.m. everyday. Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz were convicted of Carter’s murder in 1988, but were released in 1999 when hair and semen evidence thought to be theirs was found to be Gore’s through DNA testing.
“We have hair and semen matching the defendant. What more do they need?” said Wintory.