Just hours after Joshua Ratliff was arrested and charged with gunning down a fellow employee at KFC-Taco Bell nearly 13 months ago, he sat in an interview room at Elizabethtown Police Department headquarters and was asked for the first time why he shot Ryan Birse multiple times.
Jurors saw the recorded interview of about 30 minutes Thursday in Ratliff’s murder trial as Detective Sgt. Kelly Slone casually talked to Ratliff, who discussed Slone’s rank at EPD with her, the level of murder charge he now faces and when he would be taken to the Hardin County Detention Center and if he could have something to eat, among other topics.
Jurors also got a peek into a possible motive in the Feb. 25, 2016, shooting that killed Birse.
Slone told Ratliff she found the case curious and it was her nature and job to explore why someone does what they do.
“Some people have reasons for doing things and some don’t,” she told Ratliff.
Ratliff replied, “Sometimes people say things and do things and you have to retaliate.”
Ratliff is charged with killing Birse, 22, by shooting him nine times with a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun, including eight times in the back as he stood over him at the back of the restaurant that had several customers and nine employees working that night.
Police found the gun they believe was used in the shooting of Birse in the front passenger seat floorboard of Ratliff’s black SUV. Slone said the gun was registered to Ratliff.
Slone told Ratliff authorities knew what happened that night. They had surveillance video and it showed all they needed to know to charge him with murder.
He asked Slone if Kentucky was a death penalty state and if there were eyewitnesses to what happened that night.
“I have a whole video,” said Slone, a 15-year veteran of EPD. “That’s rare.”
Ratliff told Slone he previously had been called a psychopath and that bothered him to hear that.
Asked by Commonwealth’s Attorney Shane Young her impression of Ratliff during the interview, Slone replied, “There was just no emotion. I didn’t see any remorse or (someone) fearful of the consequences. It was very, very cold and unnerving.”
Ratliff entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. He is represented by Wesley Durham, a local attorney.
Also testifying on the second day of the trial was Joshua Sheffield, who spent nearly two months — off and on — in the same unit with Ratliff at the Hardin County Detention Center.
He said Ratliff was quiet and would talk more at night than during the day.
“He told me that he shot a guy he worked with,” Sheffield said.
He said Ratliff never referred to Birse by name.
“He said people were stealing his work hours,” Sheffield added. “He said he had reached a boiling point.”
If convicted of murder, Ratliff could face life in prison.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. today in Judge Ken Howard’s courtroom. The jury is expected to get the case Wednesday to determine a verdict.