MADISON - The Newport News man accused of killing three relatives nearly three years ago in their rural farmhouse entered 11 pleas of not guilty Monday morning at arraignment in circuit court.
Rashad Matthew Riddick, 26, faces the death penalty if convicted of capital murder in the February 2011 deaths of his uncle James Clark Jackson, 55, his wife Karen Lee Jackson, 53, and her daughter, Chante Latrice Davis, 26.
Madison County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Bouton scheduled the estimated four-week trial to begin Sept. 15, 2014 and the next motions hearing for Dec. 5 at 1:30 p.m.
"The victims' family has rights in this," said Madison County Commonwealth's Attorney George Webb in requesting an earlier trial date not almost a year away. "They've waited a long, long time and we need to get this moving forward in an orderly fashion."
The prosecutor added later, "The commonwealth would like to go forward as soon as possible. This case is getting long in the tooth."
Ruled mentally competent to stand trial at a hearing last month following prolonged deliberation on the matter and numerous hearings, Riddick said Monday in court, "I am ready to try this case at anytime." He subsequently objected to the trial date Bouton set saying it violated his speedy trial rights.
At arraignment, Riddick sat between his court-appointed attorneys Joseph Flood and Stephen Rosenfeld for the first time since physically attacking Flood last August in open court. The defendant continued to assert that he wants to represent himself at trial.
He entered his pleas Monday without incident, appearing to converse freely with Flood.
Seven law enforcement officers surrounded Riddick in the tiny courtroom. He was chained at his hands and feet wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, his hair in dreadlocks and pulled up in pigtails.
Bouton said he would take up Riddick's request to represent himself at the next motions hearing at which time a defense motion to preserve evidence will also be heard.
At the start of Monday's hearing, Flood originally sought to waive the reading of the indictments against Riddick saying he recently discussed the matter with his client. But after speaking briefly with the defendant in court, Riddick indicated he wanted the multiple charges read aloud including capital murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and grand larceny auto.
Bouton questioned Riddick briefly following the formal arraignment, asking the accused to raise his right hand to be sworn in. When the clerk asked Riddick if he swore to tell the truth, the defendant mumbled, "I don't know" before saying, "Yeah, yeah."
The judge asked the defendant if he wanted a trial by jury or judge and Riddick responded the former. When Bouton further informed Riddick he had a constitutional right to have his case heard just by a judge, the defendant responded, "I don't want that."
Flood told the court Monday that the defense needed "a solid year" to prepare the case for trial. He mentioned 17 pending motions in the case with five or six involving "very complicated legal issues."
Following arraignment, Bouton ruled in favor of a defense motion seeking disclosure of the date, location and officers involved in any search of Riddick or search warrants executed in the case. It was revealed in court that search warrants were issued in Culpeper, Fairfax, Madison, Newport News and Orange.
The commonwealth also indicated it intended to seek the death penalty if Riddick is convicted based on an "aggravating factor" that if the defendant is incarcerated for the rest of his life he would pose a continuing serious threat based on his prior criminal record.
Bouton also approved additional funds for a defense mitigation expert, investigator and paralegal to which Webb objected.
"I think excessive funds have been expended already - thousands and thousands of dollars," the prosecutor said. "This case has been investigated to death. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial, but not a perfect trial."
The bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Jackson and Ms. Davis were found in their home off of U.S. 15 near Woodberry Forest School on Feb. 12, 2011. All three victims were shot to death with a shotgun.
Riddick was arrested a day later in Newport News and his uncle's truck recovered.
According to Flood, a couple of witnesses who previously testified in the case have since died.