Alleged shooter claims self defense

Published 8:24 am Thursday, November 23, 2017

The case against the fourth alleged shooter in a gunfight that left two teens dead is going to the grand jury.

Police said Matthew Carmen, 23, admitted to firing a gun on the night of Nov. 7 at the Washington Street Apartments, but it was in self-defense.

During Carmen’s preliminary hearing Wednesday morning, Winchester Police Sgt. Tom Beall said Carmen was on a raised wooden deck at the apartments around 9 p.m. when 24-year-old Denzel Hill, 22-year-old Darian Skinner and 18-year-old Ronnie Ellis arrived. The three were all armed and reportedly looking for a fight.

Others charged with complicity to commit murder in the case are, clockwise from top left, Mikaela Buford, 18; Darian Skinner, 22; Denzel Hill, 24; and Ronnie Ellis, 18.

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During a related court hearing last week, Beall said the three fanned out as they approached the parking lot. Carmen, Beall said, admitted to firing a .40 caliber handgun, but said it was in self-defense.

Beall said the two victims, 16-year-olds Kayla Holland and Adrianna Castro, were caught in the middle of the gunfight. Holland died at the scene after being shot in the head and Castro died later at Clark Regional Medical Center from a gunshot wound to the torso. A third 16-year-old girl was also between the shooters, but was not injured.

“Initially, he told me he didn’t (fire),” Beall said. “At the end of the interview, he said he fired in self-defense.”

Beall said police believe the shooting resulted from a verbal argument involving 10 people earlier in the day at the Shell gas station on Washington Street. On one side were Castro, Holland and three others including a juvenile. The other side of the argument included Ellis, Skinner, Hill, Mikaela Buford and another juvenile, he said.

Ellis, Skinner, Hill and Carmen were all charged with two counts each of complicity to commit murder for participating in the shooting.

Buford, 18, was also charged with two counts of complicity to commit murder for allegedly driving Ellis, Skinner and Hill to the apartment complex prior to the shooting and driving one away afterward. Beall said in a hearing last week there was another female juvenile in Buford’s vehicle who is not being charged in the case.

The four alleged shooters and Buford are being held on a $1 million bond each in the Clark County Detention Center.

Matthew Carmen and Julia Richardson

Carmen’s girlfriend, 25-year-old Julia Richardson, was arrested for tampering with physical evidence in connection with the shooting. Beall said she removed a box of .40 caliber ammunition from the scene and left it in a nearby backyard.

During her preliminary hearing Wednesday morning, Beall said Richardson then used another person’s phone to call Carmen after leaving a backpack containing the bullets to ask if she “was good.”

Clark District Judge Earl-Ray Neal ruled there was probable cause for charges against Carmen and Richardson and sent both cases to the grand jury. 

Skinner, Buford and Hill had their cases sent to the grand jury after their preliminary hearings last week. Ellis’ attorney asked for his hearing to be postponed to allow more time for investigation.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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