Samuel Earl “Sam” Rich found guilty on all charges
Thursday's trial story . . .
Closing arguments were to begin this afternoon in the trial of Samuel Earl “Sam” Rich.
Rich is being tried in Bedford County Circuit Court for attempted first degree murder in the shooting of Hannah Grace “Gracie” Perryman at her former fiance Will Warner’s home on Temple Ford Road early last Aug. 13.
Investigators allege Rich had shot Warner to death in Nashville less than two hours earlier. Rich will be tried for murder in Nashville at a later date.
Other charges against Rich in this week’s trial include employment of a firearm during commission of a felony, theft, possession of a firearm, especially aggravated burglary, aggravated burglary, theft, possession of a firearm, and tampering with evidence.
Defense attorney Robert Marlow called no witnesses after two days of testimony from witnesses called by Assistant District Attorneys Roger Moore and Jan Norman from Davidson County. They and Judge Thomas John Wright of Greeneville are handling the case due to familiarity between local and area judges, the Bedford County District Attorney’s office and Rich’s father, Bedford County General Sessions Judge Charles Rich.
Much of Wednesday afternoon’s and Thursday morning’s testimony involved establishing a timeline of events leading up to Warner’s murder and the shooting of Perryman.
Chad Gish, a detective in the Metropolitan Nashville Police
Department’s Surveillance Investigative Support Unit and an expert in computer forensics, explained how he used data from a Drager breathalyzer installed on Warner’s Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV to track the vehicle’s movements from a home on Hilltop Road near Flat Creek to Warner’s home, to Nashville, briefly back to Warner’s home at the time Perryman was shot in the face by Rich, and to its final destination in a wooded area on Hilltop Road where Rich allegedly abandoned the SUV.
That evidence plus evidence from Warner’s cellphone showed he had sent a photo of himself holding a large sum of money to another individual early on the morning of Aug. 13.
“It was sort of normal for Warner to take photos of large amounts of money,” Gish said. Warner had withdrawn a large amount of money from a Shelbyville bank a short time earlier, jurors were told.
Perryman had testified earlier that Warner was known to keep substantial sums of cash in his home.
The breathalyzer device frequently required Warner to blow into the unit and photographed him doing so, Gish said. Front seat passengers, including Rich, could be seen in those photos, according to Gish.
Those check-ins and data from Warner’s phone show Warner and passenger Rich going to the Hilltop Road home of Ross Boyce, a friend of Rich’s, leaving around 7:20 p.m. Aug. 12 and arriving at 8 p.m.
From there, records show Warner and Rich drove to the wooded area about a mile away from Boyce’s home where the Grand Cherokee was found.
They stayed approximately 10 to 15 minutes before returning briefly to the Warner home, then on to a convenience store in the Antioch area where surveillance video showed him entering and purchasing apple juice and cigarettes. Photos from
the breathalyzer showed Warner driving and Rich as a passenger during that period.
The data tracked the vehicle from the store to the location on Delaware Street in Nashville where Warner’s body was found, arriving at 11:26 p.m. Aug. 12.
The Jeep’s engine was shut off at 11:26:08 (p.m.) and software on Warner’s Apple iPhone tracked what Gish called “the last three steps that Will Warner took” at 11:26:24 (p.m.) Warner’s phone was found near his body by Metro police.
Evidence shows the Jeep’s engine was restarted at 11:27:18 (p.m.) Gish noted the breathalyzer’s camera was covered in photos from that point and breath tests failed.
Perryman testified Warner’s Jeep was at his home when she arrived shortly before 1 a.m. Aug. 13. Computer analysis shows the Jeep’s engine was cut off at 12:57:10 (a.m.) and restarted at 12:59:53 (a.m.) Perryman called 911 at 1:01 a.m.
From there, records show, Rich allegedly drove to the wooded area on Hilltop Road where the Jeep was abandoned.
Boyce testified earlier that Rich showed up at his home briefly during that point. Rich later left his cell phone in a dog food bag and took Boyce’s phone.
Rich allegedly partially removed the breathalyzer after arriving on Hilltop Road. The GPS on Warner’s SUV shows the engine being turned off and on.
Records from Boyce’s phone show a series of goodbye texts Rich sent to friend Falicia Fletcher between 5:30 and 9 a.m. Aug. 13. “This is it. I love you,” was sent at 8:36 a.m. and, finally, “I love you but I have to go,” at 8:46 a.m.
During that period Rich was texting GPS coordinates of his location to Dion Cole of Murfreesboro.
“It was like he was trying to find an escape plan to get out from where he was at,” Gish said.
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