Richard Ellison

PRINCETON — A psychiatric evaluation was ordered Tuesday for a Mercer County man who was arrested and charged on second-degree murder after an argument about a crowing rooster allegedly led to him gouging out his neighbor’s eyes.

Richard Wayne Ellison, 47, of the Rock area appeared via videoconference before Circuit Court Judge Mark Wills for a motions hearing. Ellison was arrested May 17 for the murder of Benny Foutch, 72, of Reese Harmon Ridge Road. The investigation started when the Princeton Rescue Squad answered a call about mental hygiene and found the victim’s body outside his home.

Detective-Corporal M.S. Horn of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department stated in his report that when they found the victim on his porch, “blood was coming from his orbital sockets.”

Ellison’s girlfriend told detectives that “Richard had made some comments about the rooster belonging to Benny Foutch bothering him with the noises it made. She advised he went up there and that she heard some beating noise on the building area where the rooster was kept and then she heard some angry yelling,” Horn stated. “She had left because she was afraid of Richard Ellison and how he was acting. She later came back and advised that Richard Ellison admitted to her that he killed the rooster and that he killed him, pointing up to Benny’s residence.”

Horn stated that he interviewed Ellison after advising him his Miranda Rights.

“I asked him what happened with him and Benny, he then made the hand motion of pressing his thumbs to his eyes,” Horn said in the report. “He advised he went up there to kill the rooster because of a movie he had watched and because it was crowing. He later explained that he pressed his thumbs into Benny’s eyes, he advised that he stayed there until he knew Benny was dead. He made the statement that he killed him, referring to the incident with Benny. He made a reference that Lucifer made him do it. He kept asking me to shoot him, that he deserved it. He then talked about getting somebody in the jail to kill him.”

During Tuesday’s hearing, attorney Earl Hager moved for Ellison to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. The exam will help determine whether Ellison is competent to stand trial. Judge Wills granted the motion after Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler said the state did not oppose the evaluation.

Sitler said after the hearing that if Ellison was found incompetent, he would be in the custody of the state Department of Health of Human Services. If Ellison is placed in state custody and later restored to competency, he would be returned to court and subject to trial by jury.

If Ellison remained not competent to stand trial, he would face lifetime commitment and supervision, Sitler stated.

Ellison is being held at the Southern Regional Jail on a $200,000 cash-only bond.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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