Men recall chaos of Lexington beating, fatal shooting — and regret of not reporting it

If you witness a crime, here’s what to do

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.
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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

Four men were inside a Maxwelton Court house on the night that a woman was severely beaten and a man was fatally shot. The four left that night, and in the days that followed not one of them reported what happened.

Chase Helvey, 26, is charged with murder, first-degree assault and evidence tampering because of the events of March 25, 2018. His trial began Monday.

On Tuesday, jurors heard from the three other men who say they were in the house where the assault occurred that night. Their separate testimony included similar details of what happened the day that Rebecca Richardson was assaulted and 36-year-old James Potter was fatally shot.

Austin J. Adams and Jonathon Whitmoyer were with Helvey in the living room of the house at 656 Maxwelton Court, near the University of Kentucky campus, for much of March 25. Nolan Stephenson, who lived at the house with Helvey and one other person, was in his room upstairs, he testified Tuesday. All four of the men had attended at least some college, though some had dropped out and others said they were taking a break.

Richardson testified that she had struggled with addiction and resorted to sex work to afford heroin. She was in a relationship with Potter, who also struggled with addiction. Potter would drive her to her appointments and kept track of those who messaged her to meet, she said.

Attacker wore bandanna on face

Adams and Whitmoyer did drugs with Helvey on the day of March 25, 2018, they testified Tuesday. They were in the living room when Helvey asked Adams if he could use his phone to call a “prostitute.”

Shortly after Helvey sent a text, Adams got a call from a woman who said she would be there in five minutes.

The man who opened the door when Richardson got there was Adams, Adams testified. He directed her back toward the kitchen, where Helvey was waiting in a nearby bedroom.

When she got to the kitchen, Richardson saw a man come out of a door and aim a wooden object at her, Richardson said. She first told investigators the object was a wooden bat, and later said it was something shorter than a bat.

When Richardson saw the man coming at her, she tried to protect her head and got low to the ground, she said Tuesday.

In the days after the assault, Richardson told a detective that she remembered that the person who attacked her was wearing a blue bandanna on his face and had long dark hair. When she testified Tuesday, she said she only remembered the bandanna.

“I’ve tried to get it out of my mind,” Richardson said Tuesday of what happened.

Adams said Tuesday he remembered that Helvey was wearing a blue bandanna over his face and a “Rastafarian” style wig or hat during the assault.

Adams told jurors that he had looked into the kitchen as he heard the assault taking place, and that he saw Helvey holding onto Richardson’s hair in one hand, and holding a wooden object at his side. Adams said he was so disgusted by what he saw that he ran and crawled up stairs, near the point of blacking out, and puked in a bathroom at the top of the stairs.

Whitmoyer said he could hear the noises of the assault and someone screaming for help from where he sat in the living room. Adams testified that he thought Whitmoyer was passed out in the living room during the ordeal.

But Whitmoyer said he was awake and saw Helvey walk out the front door after the assault. Then Whitmoyer said he heard a single gunshot before Helvey ran back inside and yelled for everyone to leave.

Men scramble to leave after violence

Stephenson said he didn’t hear anything but some “banging around” downstairs until someone beat on his bedroom door. He said it was Adams, who had a “blank stare” on his face and walked over to lay on his bed.

A short time after that, Helvey burst in and told them urgently that they all needed to go, Stephenson said. Stephenson told jurors that from Helvey’s panic and Adams’ demeanor, he thought someone was attacking the house. The three of them ran downstairs, outside and into Stephenson’s truck.

Adams said he was so distraught he had to be helped down the stairs, but Stephenson said he’d run without looking back and had not helped Adams. Stephenson also said he heard what sounded like a woman’s raspy yelling from the kitchen, but did not turn back to look.

As far as Adams knew, Whitmoyer was passed out in the living room, so the three left him.

As Stephenson drove Helvey and Adams away from the house in his truck, Helvey began talking about what happened, Stephenson testified Tuesday. Adams said he was about to throw up and didn’t hear everything Helvey said because his head was out the window.

Helvey told Stephenson that he had “shot a pimp” and bragged that it had only taken one shot, Stephenson testified Tuesday. Helvey said he had tapped on the man’s truck window with his gun and the man had tried to drive off before he was shot. Potter’s black pickup truck went up an embankment. Police found the truck resting against a building and first thought they were investigating a DUI crash.

Stephenson also said Tuesday that Helvey told him he had “haymakered a prostitute” three times, pistol whipped her and “torched her eye out.”

At that point in the conversation, Stephenson said he was starting to panic and told Helvey and Adams they couldn’t be in his truck. Helvey asked to be left at a sports bar, so Stephenson dropped the two off at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Georgetown on his way to his parents’ house in Warsaw, Ky.

Adams and Helvey stayed at the restaurant for hours before going back to Adams’ apartment on Bold Bidder Drive. Adams shared the apartment with Whitmoyer, and Whitmoyer was there asleep when the other two arrived.

Whitmoyer testified Tuesday that after the chaos at the house, he’d started walking through campus and got a ride-share from the area of Memorial Coliseum to the apartment. Whitmoyer said he’d walked to clear his mind after what happened, and that he hadn’t wanted to be in a vehicle with the other three.

Once the three of them were there, Adams, Whitmoyer and Helvey stayed at the apartment for two days until Adams’ dad came to pick him up and drive him to his home in Russell. During the two days at the apartment, Adams said they watched more than 50 episodes of Dragon Ball Z, ate pizza and drank mimosas.

Adams, Whitmoyer and Helvey had known of each other before moving to Lexington because they’d all attended Raceland High School near Ashland.

Stephenson, who went to stay with his parents in Warsaw, did not contact police. But after investigators contacted his mother’s workplace the two days after what happened, Stephenson cooperated with detectives and told them what happened.

Adams didn’t say anything about what happened until he was approached by police at a Chick-fil-A in Ashland., he said Tuesday. He admitted that he was not truthful at first, but eventually told detectives what happened at the end of a nearly hour-long interview.

Adams, Stephenson and Whitmoyer all said that they panicked after what happened. They each said they regretted not coming forward with information sooner, and that they had feared Helvey and the consequences that could fall on them after what happened.

“I am utterly appalled,” Adams said Tuesday of his failure to call police. “Not a night goes by that I can sleep fully. This will be with me for the rest of my life.”

Woman suffers lasting injuries

Richardson told jurors on Tuesday, if she holds her head back for more than a few seconds she blacks out because of the injuries she sustained the night of the assault.

Richardson said she didn’t remember anything else that happened in the house, but recalled ending up across the street at a house with a few “girls.”

One of the women in the house Richardson remembered was Katie Wilson. Wilson testified Tuesday that she was in her apartment, which was in a house across the street from 656 Maxwelton Court, when she thought she heard a faint moaning and someone saying, “help me, I’m dying.”

Wilson went outside her apartment to see what was happening, and saw several police and fire vehicles a few doors down with lights flashing. She said she stayed on her porch and watched to see what was happening and then heard the moaning again, this time behind her.

She turned around to see Richardson, who looked like “she’d been beaten within an inch of her life. She looked scary,” Wilson said.

Wilson and her roommate tried to help Richardson, who was saying she just needed to lay down.

Richardson said Tuesday that her memories of the night of the attack are spotty, but that she remembers how bright it was inside Wilson’s apartment.

Wilson and her roommate helped Richardson lay down on their couch and eventually convinced her that she needed to go to a hospital. They got her outside and in the passenger seat of Wilson’s car, while Wilson’s roommate and neighbor went to flag down a firefighter at the scene a few doors down.

The night of March 25, Wilson did not know that Richardson was connected to the nearby crash scene and police did not know that the “crash” they were investigating was actually a shooting that was connected to a nearby assault.

Richardson initially did not want to be treated, but paramedics were able to take her to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. She had skull fractures, bleeding, a spinal fracture and other injuries, prosecutors said Tuesday. Richardson was in the hospital for five days, and Tuesday she admitted she probably should have stayed longer.

Richardson said Tuesday that she hadn’t wanted to go to the hospital at all or call police because she’d feared they’d find out about her drug use and sex work.

Helvey’s trial is set to continue Wednesday morning.