Trial continues for Wichita Falls man suspected in 2019 murder

Byron Jack Rickard.
Byron Jack Rickard.(Wichita County Jail)
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 5:03 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - The capital murder trial of a Wichita Falls man charged with killing an elderly woman continued on Wednesday.

Byron Jack Rickard is charged with capital murder while remuneration in the death of Ruby Ditto, 91.

On Wednesday, the trial focused on testimony from a crime unit officer, who explained the different types of blood splatters and what causes them. Ditto’s autopsy report was also brought up, and it reportedly concluded that she had died from a blunt force trauma wound on her head.

An ER physician who took care of Ditto in the hospital reportedly stated she noticed the head injuries and that they were life-threatening.

Testimonies started on Tuesday. Wichita County District Attorney John Gillespie began questioning the detectives of the case about the timeline of events that led up to Ditto’s death. Another topic of interest was Rickard reportedly being caught by officers with a fanny pack that is believed to have belonged to Ditto.

An affidavit states Rickard and his legal team expressed back in 2019 that he was “incompetent to stand trial.”

According to court documents, on Sunday, April 28, 2019, a neighbor called 911 just before 4:30 p.m. and said Ditto was possibly passed out in the yard of a home in the 200 block of N. Beverly.

When medical personnel got to the scene, they believed she had actually been assaulted. Officials said Ditto was bleeding from the head. She was rushed to the hospital but died the following Tuesday.

READ: Wichita Falls murder victim remembered for impact on community

During the investigation, a neighbor reportedly told police a man she only knew as “BJ” had been helping Ditto clean up a property of hers. According to the neighbor, Ditto was allowing this man to stay in a trailer house on the property.

The neighbor allegedly told police she last saw Ditto talking with “BJ” in the yard. When she looked out her window, she could not see Ditto nor “BJ” and Ditto’s truck was gone.

After 20 minutes had passed, the neighbor went outside and reportedly found Ditto lying on the ground bleeding from her head; the neighbor told officers that Ditto was also missing a fanny pack she used as a purse.

At that time, officers swept the home and reportedly found a piece of mail that belonged to Rickard. Officers were familiar with him and went to his last known address in the 2100 block of Garfield.

Court documents state officers caught up with Rickard in Ditto’s truck and her fanny pack was inside. Rickard reportedly said he met Ditto the day before when he found a tree laid over in her yard.

Rickard allegedly told officers he felt compelled to help because Ditto had handicap plates on her car. He said he began cutting up the tree when Ditto came out of the home and told him she could not pay him for his work.

At that time, Rickard reportedly said Ditto offered him a place to stay at an address in the 200 block of N. Beverly, which was one of her rental properties. Rickard said he stayed the night there on Saturday and woke up on Sunday and began doing work around the property.

Rickard said Ditto brought him lunch sometime around 11 a.m. He then allegedly told detectives after lunch he borrowed Ditto’s truck to go to his old residence on Garfield to get more of his belongings around noon and never returned.

Court documents state the neighbor corroborated Rickard’s account up until his claim of leaving the home at noon. The neighbor said she saw Rickard and Ditto speaking in the yard around 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

A search warrant of Rickard’s home on Garfield reportedly led to the discovery of Ditto’s truck key in a set of cabinets.

A photo lineup was shown to the neighbor with a photo of Rickard. She allegedly identified Rickard as the person she saw with Ditto but said she was only 80% sure.

Officers reportedly found suspected blood spatter on the side and seat portion of the driver seat, steering wheel and inside panel of the driver’s door. A presumptive test was positive for blood, according to police.