A death row inmate from Van Buren will get a new trial, after the Arkansas Supreme Court found he was incompetent to stand trial in a local murder case.
The Supreme Court released the opinion Thursday, stating, “[W]e are persuaded that the record overwhelmingly illustrates that (Rickey) Newman’s cognitive deficits and mental illnesses interfered with his ability to effectively and rationally assist counsel.”
Newman, 56, was convicted of first-degree murder in Crawford County in 2002 after a homeless woman’s body was found severely cut and sliced at a “hobo camp” near Lee Creek Park, according to court documents. The woman was identified as Marie Cholette.
A medical examination of Cholette’s body revealed an eight-inch-long cut on her neck, as well as several stab wounds and lacerations to her chest, records show. Her nipples and liver had also been removed from her body. She was also sliced open from her sternum to her pelvic bond, exposing her intestines, according to the medical examiner’s findings.
Two of the woman’s vital parts were also cut from her body, and she had multiple defensive wounds, the medical examiner found.
While being interviewed by authorities, Newman allegedly confessed to the killing, although he said that “I’ll never say I did it. I’ll (sic) Psycho probably did it. Rickey Newman didn’t do it,” court records show. Newman later told investigators he becomes “Seaco” when he blacks out and cannot control “Seaco,” according to court documents.
The court documents also state, “Newman wrote that when he becomes “Seaco” he will kill ‘anyone he see(s) as a threat’ and stated he was ‘guilb (sic) of all this.’”
After being arrested and charged with capital murder, Newman attempted to plead guilty at his arraignment. The judge rejected Newman’s plea and appointed him a public defender, according to court records. Newman later fired his defense attorney and was allowed by the court to defend himself, records show.