Murder suspect says victim died of self-inflicted wound

Rucker

WHITLEY COUNTY - A Corbin man facing charges in Whitley County for fatally shooting his girlfriend in May of last year had two motions filed by his attorney, Kim Green, during a status hearing in Whitley County Circuit Court Monday afternoon.

On behalf of Nicholas Rucker, 40, Green filed a motion to preserve evidence, as well as a motion to obtain the medical records of the victim, Vicki S. Conner, 57.

“The victim in this case died as the result of a gunshot wound,” explained Rucker’s attorney via Zoom. “Mr. Rucker, according to witnesses, made in statements that it was self-inflicted.”

According to the motion, the defense claims that Conner had a history of mental health issues and suicidal ideations prior to her death. The motion highlights Facebook posts made by the victim as exculpatory evidence in which would deem obtaining her medical records from Comp Care in Corbin and London as permissible. The motion states that the victim had attended therapy sessions at both locations.

Commonwealth Attorney Ronnie Bowling argued against the Facebook posts being sufficient enough evidence to warrant the motion. He argued that the defense failed to meet the burden of showing that said records even existed or said what the defense claim they did.

The defense offered to tender an order for Judge Paul Winchester to perform an in camera review. An in camera review is a process in which a judge privately looks at confidential, or sensitive information to determine what, if any, of that information may be used by a party in court and made public.

Winchester then scheduled a future pre-trial conference date for Dec. 21 at 11 a.m.

Rucker was indicted by a Whitley County grand jury in August 2019 for charges stemming from an incident that took place earlier that year on May 22. The Commonwealth also filed its intent to seek the death penalty against Rucker in August of last year as well.

Count one of the indictment charges Rucker with murder. Count two of the indictment charges Rucker with tampering with physical evidence. Count three of the indictment charges Rucker with possession of a handgun by a convicted felon.

On the date listed in the indictment, law enforcement says Rucker shot and killed Conner at a residence where the pair had been staying.

Roger Witt, the homeowner of the residence, testified in Rucker’s preliminary hearing in July of last year that he was at the residence when the incident took place.

According to Witt’s testimony, Conner had come from the bedroom to the living room with others as she was making a grocery list, but was called back to the bedroom by Rucker. Within just a few minutes, Witt said he heard a gun shot. Rucker soon emerged from the bedroom, according to Witt, holding a gun out in the palm of his hand with his arms covered in blood.

Soon after the incident, police obtained a warrant for Rucker’s arrest, though he could not be located for several weeks. Multiple reports of people claiming to have seen Rucker were received by different law enforcement agencies during that time, with some coming out of Tennessee.

Rucker continued to elude police until a tip was received in the early hours of July 4, 2019 that he had been spotted at a residence on Meadow Lark Circle in Corbin, where deputies with the Knox County Sheriff’s Department located him walking out of a wood line and through the backyard of a residence.

According to the deputies, Rucker ran into a nearby home and then out of one of the exits in attempt to flee. He ran from deputies on foot before being tackled to the ground. According to deputies, Rucker refused to be handcuffed, but after following a brief scuffle with deputies, he was taken into custody.

Rucker is also facing one count of possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and one count of being in possession of drug paraphernalia in Knox County.

Rucker was indicted by a Laurel County grand jury on murder charges in 1998 for killing his infant son by shaking him. He was sentenced to 20 years for the murder charge on April 19, 1999, but was released after 12 years.

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