Defense says evidence ‘screams out self-defense’ as man withdraws guilty plea for killing friend
IDAHO FALLS — A local man is taking his chances with a jury after withdrawing his guilty plea in the shooting death of his friend.
During a hearing Monday afternoon, Marshall Dee Hendricks, 31, took the stand as he testified why his guilty plea should be set aside and his case determined by a jury. District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. ultimately determined Hendricks could reverse his guilty plea for the Sept. 2, 2019, shooting death of his friend Rory Neddo.
During the hearing, Hendricks’ new defense attorney, Allen Browning, said the case has a “lot of evidence that just screams out self-defense.” Hendricks hired Browning in March, after pleading guilty to felony voluntary manslaughter with a deadly weapon enhancement knowing prosecutors would recommend he spend 10 to 25 years in prison.
After being placed under oath, Hendricks described Neddo becoming upset because Hendricks had had sexual relations with Neddo’s ex-girlfriend. While Hendricks was at a friend’s house in Bonneville County, he says Neddo came over making threats and acting aggressively. At one point Neddo is said to have threatened that Hendricks would never speak again.
Hendricks testified that during the encounter, he held a handgun out with both hands, telling Neddo to stop however he says Neddo kept coming at him, getting close enough he could smell his breath. Hendricks said he knew Neddo carried a gun, and when his friend reached behind his back, Hendricks says he made the split-second decision to fire a single shot with his .40 caliber handgun, killing Neddo in the driveway of the home.
After reportedly shooting Neddo, Hendricks ended up leaving the scene, going to the home of a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy he knew until investigators arrived. Bonneville County Sheriff’s deputy reports indicate Neddo’s gun was found inside the car he drove to the scene. A pair of brass knuckles were in his pocket, Browning said at the hearing.
Neddo’s autopsy reportedly shows he had methamphetamine and other drugs in his system at the time of the death.
Bonneville County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Russell Spencer argued the case against Hendricks “is as much as a first-degree murder case as it is a manslaughter case.” Spencer said Hendricks is the one who brought a gun to what could have been a fistfight, making the deadly force disproportionate to Neddo’s intent.
Prosecutors are also concerned one of their main witnesses, the woman Neddo and Hendricks were fighting over is now married to Hendricks. Spencer went on to say reversing the guilty plea and taking the case at trial could impact her ability to testify with her claiming spousal privilege.
However, Browning said the woman intends to testify and will submit a waiver of spousal privilege.
Judge Watkins determined, Hendricks could reverse his guilty plea under Idaho law. With the reversal of the guilty plea, Hendricks now faces the original charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
However, Spencer indicated that prosecutors are now considering charging Hendricks with first-degree murder.
A status conference to determine what will happen next in Hendricks’ case and potentially set a date for a jury trial is scheduled for July 6.