TALLADEGA COUNTY -- A Talladega County jury of 11 men and one woman spent about two hours deliberating Tuesday without reaching a verdict in the case of Timothy Riddlehoover, 63, accused of the attempted murder of a Sylacauga police officer.
They will resume their deliberations Wednesday starting at 8:30 a.m.
The jury initially spent a little more than an hour in deliberations before sending a note to Circuit Judge Julian King, indicating the split in the vote and saying there was “no hope.” King did not disclose what the split was, but he did call the jurors into the courtroom and encourage them to continue to make every effort to reach a unanimous verdict.
Jury trials are expensive and time consuming, he said, adding that if there was not a verdict, the case would likely be retried. While he said jurors should never surrender their convictions, he asked all of them to review their individual conclusions and then to consult with each other in a spirit of cooperation.
The panel could continue to deliberate Tuesday afternoon or go home for the evening, he added.
Just after 5 p.m., the panel sent King another note, saying that they were willing to return Wednesday, although they were still not optimistic about returning a unanimous verdict.
Defense attorney Jon Adams then asked for a mistrial, which King denied.
While that jury continues to deliberate today, another jury will be struck in the same courtroom to try Antony Devon Morris, 21, charged with shooting into an unoccupied building or vehicle.
Riddlehoover is accused of calling 911 on Aug. 5, 2015, then shooting at the officers who responded to the call.
According to his own testimony Tuesday, Riddlehoover was trained as a registered nurse and worked for several years providing hospice care to terminally ill patients. He said the work eventually led him to a breakdown, and he quit in 2009. He also said that he had cared for his mother during her last days, until she passed away in 2013.
At the time of the incident, he was living alone and on Social Security disability. He had been prescribed various drugs to combat depression, and at the time of the incident was taking Wellbutrin, Klonopin and Lamictal.
Wellbutrin is an antidepressant often used for smoking cessation. Klonopin is an anti-seizure medication also used to treat anxiety, and Lamictal is for the treatment of mood swings associated with bipolar disorder. None of the drugs should be taken with alcohol.
Riddlehoover admitted to having a glass of wine after coming back from his doctor’s appointment the afternoon before the incident, then said he might have had two or three more glasses, and possibly some rum. He said he had no further clear memories until he woke up, in the dark, in his living room, with a gun in his hand and aware that someone was outside.
He said he saw an empty car with the lights on but no one inside; he was not aware of the police, according to his own testimony. He said he fired a shot into the floor to let whoever was outside know that he was armed, but said he was not aware of firing any other shots.
According to the 911 tape introduced by the prosecution Monday, Riddlehoover told a dispatcher he had been trying to call for half an hour, but the first four times he tried, his phone would only dial 411. He went on to tell the dispatcher he had taken “extra medication.” He was able to give the dispatcher his address and tell him the porch light was on. When asked what medication he was taking, he would only say, “I’ll tell you when you get here.”
He also made several threats during the course of the 911 call, documented on the tape, including the repeated statement that he had three loaded firearms with him. When the dispatcher asked him if he planned to hurt anyone else, he said “Excuse me, I was trying to be a man. You’ll find out when you get here. What the f—k do you think that means, come up here and f---ing find out. I’m gonna get my 40 caliber and you better be ready. You watch TV enough to know what’s happening…”
He also made profane threats specifically against the people outside his apartment.
At this point, Sgt. Shane Michael Bland and several other police officers arrived on the scene.
According to testimony Monday, Bland first tapped on the window and saw that Riddlehoover was still on the phone and did not appear to be armed. He stood to the side of the front door, sideways, and was about to knock again when Riddlehoover fired a shot through the front door. The bullet barely missed Bland’s chest, and fragments of the storm door hit him in the face, according to his testimony.
When the dispatcher asked Riddlehoover if he had fired a shot, he replied “ask the officer out there.” He hung up shortly afterward, and phone contact was never re-established.
Evidence presented by the state Tuesday morning indicated that Riddlehoover fired seven shots during the course of a standoff that lasted three to four hours. The portion of the standoff when the shots were fired was documented by the body cameras worn by several police officers.
The Talladega County Sheriff’s Office and Talladega County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force also responded. When Riddlehoover eventually surrendered and was handcuffed, he allegedly said, “Well, did I get him,” according to a task force agent.
Riddlehoover was indicted on a charge of attempted murder, and prosecutors Christina Kilgore and Jake Argo argued that no lesser included offenses would be appropriate. Adams asked King to include a charge of reckless endangerment, however, which King ultimately did.
Alabama law says that voluntary intoxication is not, in itself, a defense against a criminal charge, but that it can be used to negate certain elements of a criminal charge.
Adams argued that intent is a necessary element of an attempted murder charge, and that Riddlehoover’s intoxication made him unable to form the necessary intent. The state pointed to statements Riddlehoover made during the incident indicating that he was aware of his own actions and the circumstances that he found himself in.
Riddlehoover has been in the Talladega County Metro Jail since the night of the incident.
If convicted of attempted murder, Riddlehoover faces 20 to 99 years or life in prison.
Criminally negligent homicide is a misdemeanor in Alabama.