Testimony began this week in a jury trial for a man accused of taking part in a home invasion in February 2011.
Jarrod L. Pritchett, 20, was arrested last year, along with Chad Russell and Curtis Pritchett. Prosecutors allege the three forced their way into the home of J.D. Carey’s family on Feb. 2, held Carey and his wife with knives and guns, and stole jewelry, cash, firearms and a car.
Carey testified Wednesday morning that he, his wife, and one of his daughters were home Feb. 2, 2011. Several inches of snow had fallen, and Carey recalled the temperatures had dropped down to around 15 degrees below zero.
His daughter’s friends had left for the evening, and she wanted to go rent a movie, Carey said. She left, and Carey went to bed. His wife had already fallen asleep, and Carey began reading a magazine. He dozed off once, awoke, read a few more paragraphs, then fell asleep again.
Carey told jurors that at some point, he heard a voice telling him to “get out of bed.” As he awoke, he saw a man standing over him with dark clothes and a mask over his face.
“All I could really see was eyes,” Carey recalled.
He told jurors he first thought he was being pranked, but the intruder held a knife at Carey’s throat.
He also realized there was another masked figure standing over his wife, and a third at the foot of their bed. Two had knives, which Carey said he recognized as his own kitchen knives.
One of the masked men pulled Carey out of bed and took him down to a bathroom. Along the way, the man would point to rooms they were passing, asking who slept in them and where they were. Carey said he was then placed on his stomach in a guest bathroom, and the masked man threatened to “stick” Carey with a knife if he moved.
The man then used what the victims later learned was an electrical cord from an iron to tie Carey’s hands behind his back. The men were asking for money, jewelry and guns, and said they weren’t going to hurt Carey’s wife.
Carey was later taken back to a room with his wife, who had been placed on the floor with her head and shoulders under a bed. Carey said he was put in a similar position next to her.
Carey testified he was trying to calm his wife so the men might get what they wanted and leave.
One intruder continued threatening to cut Carey with a knife, and at some point, a knife was placed to Carey’s face, where it inflicted a cut.
“When my wife saw the blood from that, she got really hysterical,” Carey said. “She started pleading for my life.”
Carey said he tried to tell the men it would be best if they left quickly, because his daughter might be returning with other people. They continued asking for guns, and then Carey said he heard the “unmistakable sound” of a pump-action weapon being chambered. But the gun was thrown on the bed, he said.
The assailants then began to look for keys to Carey’s Navigator, but were having a hard time locating the right keys. Carey remembered he’d left his keys in a coat pocket, and told them he’d take them to the coat.
“I’m wanting to get them out of the house before my daughter got home,” he said. “I was more concerned about her than anything else.”
The men eventually gave up on finding the keys to Carey’s Navigator, and found the keys to his wife’s Chrysler. They pulled Carey and his wife out from under the bed and took them back to a master bathroom, with a gun pointed at Carey. He said the men told the couple to get on their knees.
Carey told jurors he recalled seeing a clock show 12:04. His daughter’s curfew was midnight, and Carey wasn’t sure whether she had returned home and was already back inside the house, or would be arriving soon.
The men put the Careys into a bathtub.
“I felt the gun between my shoulder blades,” Carey told jurors. “I thought, ‘OK, God, I think I’m ready.’”
The last thing he heard the men say was that they were still “getting stuff,” and they ordered the Careys not to move. The room got quiet, Carey recalled, and he then heard the chime of a doorbell button, which is right next to the garage-door button. He believed the men were leaving through the garage, and that it would be his best opportunity to try getting to a gun.
Carey said he worked his way up so he could go get a pistol. He told District Attorney Brian Kuester and jurors that he was able to free his hands as he was going for the pistol, but stumbled across the shotgun the men had placed on his bed. He took the firearm, loaded it, and gave his wife the pistol, he said.
Carey said the first thing he did was look outside to see whether his daughter’s car was home, but it wasn’t. He said the phone in their kitchen had been yanked out of the wall, and the intruders had taken his wife’s cell phone. Carey had left his cell phone at his office that day.
The couple made their way to a neighbor’s home to ask for help and to call 911.
Jurors then heard from Russell, who appeared before them dressed in an orange jail suit. Russell is currently being held at the Muskogee County/City Detention Center.
Russell told jurors he, Jarrod Pritchett and Curtis Pritchett had consumed beer at the home of Curtis’ friend on Feb. 2, 2011. Russell said he’d also gotten high on meth.
Later, as the three were walking home, Russell said, they decided to rob a house.
“We saw a vehicle leave the Careys’ house, so we figured nobody was home,” Russell said.
He said the three didn’t know who lived at the home on West Downing, but went to the home’s back door and broke in. Jarrod, he said, went to the Careys’ bedroom, while Russell and Curtis Pritchett found knives in the home’s kitchen.
Russell testified that Jarrod had a knife, and he admitted the three held Carey and his wife “against their will.” He indicated Jarrod was the man standing over Carey, telling him not to move.
“I kind of figured that’s what would happen,” Russell testified.
Russell said he was standing near Carey’s wife, and Curtis Pritchett was at the end of their bed. He admitted to being in a state of “adrenaline” and between “drunk and high.”
Russell said he doesn’t know whether Jarrod or Curtis Pritchett took Carey from the bed to another room.
“They were dressed alike,” Russell said.
But he told jurors Jarrod was the one who eventually returned with Carey. The couple was then placed on the floor, with their heads under a bed, Russell said. Russell told jurors he grabbed a rifle, handed it to Curtis Pritchett and told him to load it, but the man couldn’t figure out how to do that.
He said they took guns, ear rings, money, cell phones and other items before taking the Chrysler.
Russell said the three drove the car until they were approximately two blocks from Curtis Pritchett’s home, and walked with guns, money and other items to the home.
They hid the guns under the home, divided up the stolen money, went to a convenience store and purchased beer, he said. When they returned, they began to drink the beer and decided to get the rifles out. They, and another person, walked the guns back to Russell’s home, he said.
“I wanted mine,” he told jurors.
He said they then went to sleep, “waiting for the next day to come ... like nothing ever happened.” He said he doesn’t know what the Pritchetts did with the guns they took, but told jurors he sold his to a man outside a club. Russell said he spent the proceeds on drugs and alcohol.
“I’m just manning up to what I did,” Russell told jurors.
Tahlequah Detective Jeff Haney told jurors that officers located the Careys’ Chrysler in an alley, and after processing the car, he was unable to find any fingerprints. Items from a stolen purse were also recovered but didn’t provide investigators with fingerprints, Haney said. Testimony has indicated the suspects were wearing gloves during the incident.
Investigators had no suspects, Haney said, but at some point, a man gave Haney details about the home invasion that hadn’t been released to the public. That man told police Russell had been bragging about “doing a home invasion.” The man mentioned Russell, Curtis Pritchett, and a third person, but he didn’t know the third suspect’s name.
Investigators interviewed Russell and arrested him, and shortly afterward took the same steps with Curtis Pritchett, Haney said.
“These guys seemed like they just wanted to get it off their chest,” Haney told jurors.
Jurors also heard testimony Wednesday from former Cherokee County Sheriff’s Investigator Matt Merideth, who accompanied a task force of law enforcement officers weeks after the home invasion to arrest Jarrod Pritchett in northern Cherokee County. Merideth said Jarrod Pritchett hid beneath some clothing in a shed, but was quickly located and detained.
Tahlequah Police Capt. Dale Glory later arrived at the home and transported Jarrod back to Tahlequah, Glory testified, so he could be interviewed by Haney.
Haney said once Jarrod sat down at the detectives’ office in Tahlequah, he denied knowing anything about the case, and said he didn’t care what Russell and Curtis Pritchett had told officers. Haney told jurors he’d never mentioned Russell’s or Curtis Pritchett’s names to Jarrod.
Jarrod soon sat back in his chair, relaxed with a “you’ve-got-me attitude,” and said nothing else, Haney told jurors.
The trial was expected to continue Thursday at 9 a.m.
Jarrod Pritchett, Curtis Pritchett and Russell are each facing charges of robbery with a weapon, kidnapping and first-degree burglary. Jarrod Pritchett is also charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
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