Log in Subscribe
Attempted murder trial

Perryman-Rich trial-day 2

By DAVID MELSON dmelson@t-g.com
Posted 6/21/22

A former cellmate of Sam Rich told jurors Wednesday in Rich’s Bedford County Circuit Court trial for attempted first degree murder how the accused allegedly killed Will Warner of Shelbyville last August after holding him at gunpoint.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in
Attempted murder trial

Perryman-Rich trial-day 2


A former cellmate of Sam Rich told jurors Wednesday in Rich’s Bedford County Circuit Court trial for attempted first degree murder how the accused allegedly killed Will Warner of Shelbyville last August after holding him at gunpoint.
Rich allegedly told Andrew Rittenhouse how he held Warner at gunpoint in his own vehicle during a trip to Nashville, dumped his body and returned to Shelbyville where he allegedly melted the gun used in the slaying and disposed the pieces in an isolated lake.
Rittenhouse is being held in Davidson County Jail on aggravated assault charges and faces further charges in Montgomery County. He is not accused of any involvement in any of Rich’s alleged crimes.
Defense attorney Robert Marlow suggested to the jury that Rittenhouse may be fabricating information in return for a reduction of his own charges.
Rich’s trial began Monday. He is accused of shooting Hannah Grace “Gracie” Perryman in the face early Aug. 13 at the Temple Ford Road home of her former fiancé, Warner, who was found dead later that day in Nashville. Warner’s stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV was discovered earlier that day in rural Bedford County.
Other charges against Rich in this week’s trial include use of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony, vehicle theft, aggravated burglary, burglary, and tampering with evidence.
Rich showed little reaction when Perryman pointed him out Tuesday as the man she says shot her in the face last Aug. 13.
Perryman told the court Warner and Rich had been together earlier that evening. Warner had texted her around 9:30-10 p.m. the night of the shooting and asked her to come spend the night, she said. She arrived at the home to find the SUV gone. She “panicked,” she said, when he still hadn’t returned by 12:30 a.m. Warner responded to a text from her that he was with his father and would return soon, she said.
Perryman said she left the home to look for Warner and his SUV was at the home when he returned – but in a different location from where he normally parked it. She entered the home, searched for him and called Warner’s name.
She testified she entered a bedroom, turned around and was met by Rich.“He met me in the doorway. He had one arm behind his back. I was crying. He said, ‘What’s wrong?’ then almost immediately I realized I had been shot,” she said.
Under cross-examination by Marlow, Perryman said Rich seemed “sporadic” as he asked the question.
“I hit the ground. I feared that he was going to shoot me again and I prayed that he would go away,” Perryman told the court. “My eyes were closed but I heard him run down the hallway and exit the house.”
She described the shot as feeling “like a burning sensation in my face.”
Perryman said she was in intensive care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for two weeks and on a feeding tube for two months. The shot, just under her right eye, led to a reconstructed eye socket, vocal chord surgery and relearning to swallow, she said. Bullet fragments remain in her face.
Following Rich’s departure, Perryman said, she called 911 for help. Jurors heard the entire call from initiation to the point law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians entered the bedroom.
Perryman said she’d had no previous problems with Rich, although a years-long friendship had cooled when he and Warner had a falling-out. She testified she and Rich had texted back-and-forth “multiple times” several days before the shooting.
Perryman said Rich is unable to let go of slights and grievances and she never felt “safe and comfortable” around him. She said she would not have gone into Warner’s home the night of the shooting if she’d known Rich was there.
Rich had previously dated Falicia Fletcher and they had double-dated with Warner and Perryman at one point, Perryman said.
Warner and Perryman had ended their engagement and were no longer living together at the time of the shooting, she said. She told the court during questioning by prosecuting attorney Jan Norman she was dating others but she and Warner remained friends and she spent nights at his home “pretty often.”
James Warner said his son, Will, and Rich had been friends from early childhood until 2019. Several witnesses said the friendship ended over relations with a girl who later married Rich.
“We know he (Rich) is a master manipulator,” James Warner said on cross-examination by Marlow. “I told him (Will) don’t have anything to do with him, he’s said he was going to kill us for two years. It had cooled down the past two or three months, we weren’t getting a lot of threats.
“We constantly monitored his (Will’s phone) and knew he wasn’t in contact with him.” Will’s cell phone was on the Warner family’s account, James said.
Alexis and Sam Rich eventually broke up and she lived at Will Warner’s home for a short time, then with James Warner and his wife, Christy, for a while, according to testimony. James described Alexis as being “black and blue and beat up” at the time she left Rich.
James Warner testified he was unaware of any sexual relationship between Alexis and his son.
Randall “Scotty” Layman, a friend who sometimes went hunting and fishing with Warner, testified Rich was at Warner’s home the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 12.
The jury was told that the day before the shooting Rich and Will Warner were together in Warner’s Grand Cherokee and visited a mutual friend, Ross Boyce, at Boyce’s home on Hilltop Road in southern Bedford County near Raus during the day Thursday, Aug. 12.
Boyce, who said he and Rich were “like best friends,” testified he was surprised to see the men together, knowing their past problems. The men stayed for some time before leaving, Boyce said.
Rich said they were headed to Antioch that Thursday to purchase heroin.
Bedford County investigators had Warner’s phone “pinged” after discovering Perryman shot and Warner’s SUV missing, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Bobby Simmons testified. The result, he said, showed the phone in Nashville.
Boyce said he was awakened by a knock on a window of his home during the overnight hours and found Rich “a little bit wet.” Marlow shook his head in a “no” during that testimony.
Boyce testified he went back to sleep and, later that Friday, discovered his cell phone was missing. A co-worker told Boyce later in the day he received a text, “I put the ice in the dog food bag” from his cell phone.
Boyce later found Rich’s cell phone in a dog food bag at the Boyce home. The Boyce cell phone has not been recovered.
Under cross-examination by Marlow, Boyce said Rich was “livid” – 9.9 on a 1-to-10 scale - over Alexis having lived with Warner. But he said Rich was “pretty strict” about guns and did not want Boyce to keep bullets in his own gun.
Rich told Rittenhouse that Boyce was not involved in any of his alleged activities after leaving the Hilltop Road home, Marlow said.
Security video from an Antioch convenience store shows Warner purchasing gas, cigarettes and apple juice at 10:24 p.m. Aug. 12. The video shows the Grand Cherokee with lights on and engine apparently left running. Simmons said the windows were tinted too darkly to see if anyone was inside.
Cellphone data shows Warner’s phone being taken from the Hilltop Road area to Nashville and back during that period, Simmons said.
Perryman was shot around 1 a.m., the night Rich said he and Warner were going to Antioch. The Grand Cherokee that Perryman had seen at the home when she returned was gone when officers and medical personnel arrived.
Simmons said Warner was killed about 11:30 p.m., Aug. 12. Warner’s body, with four gunshot wounds, was found Friday morning, Aug. 13, near a somewhat-isolated water treatment plant in Nashville.
As officers were searching the Flat Creek-Raus area for Rich, a TBI technical specialist was able to track the approximate location of the Grand Cherokee through its Sirius XM satellite radio to an area off Hilltop Road approximately a mile from Boyce’s home. The SUV was found far off the road in a grove of trees, TBI Special Agent Simmons said.
Inside was a receipt for a $10,000 withdrawal from a Shelbyville bank, two empty bank bags, a vape pen and apple juice container with Rich’s fingerprints, Simmons said. Within the apple juice container was a cigarette butt with Rich’s DNA, according to Simmons.
Rittenhouse said Rich mentioned “$25,000...there was supposed to be a lot of money in Will’s house.” Warner had just “flipped” a house and supposedly had several thousand dollars in proceeds, Simmons said.
Jillian Hamlin of Murfreesboro told the court she was asked by her former boyfriend, Dion Cole, to drive him to an unspecified “wooded area outside Shelbyville” using a GPS address early that Friday morning. They arrived to find Rich by the roadside wearing a t-shirt, shorts and house shoes and appearing “tired,” she said. She did not testify where they went from that point.
Rich turned himself in to a Bedford County detective and a TBI agent two days later in Murfreesboro. Hamlin and Cole drove Rich to the parking lot of a Kroger store in Murfreesboro where he was taken into custody, Simmons said.
Retired Judge Thomas J. Wright of Greeneville is presiding due to connections Rich’s father, long-time General Sessions Judge Charles Rich, has with Bedford County’s judiciary system.