If “Chip” had been white, it’s likely Ricky Passmore would not have cared that his ex-wife and the mother of his three children dated another man, according to a recording played in a York County courtroom on Monday.
But Chip is black.
And now Passmore is standing trial after police say he broke into his ex-wife’s Clover home last summer wielding a “samurai-style” sword, pushed her onto the couch and threatened to kill her if she moved while he searched the mobile home for her black boyfriend. His target wasn’t home.
Passmore, 46, of York, is charged with burglary, kidnapping, criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. His twin brother, Micky Passmore, was charged with burglary and conspiracy to commit kidnapping. The conspiracy charge was later dismissed.
Police went to Julia Coleman’s home on Trinity Street at about 5 a.m. June 19 after a neighbor reported that a man was breaking into the home with a sword, Clover Police Sgt. Phillip Hawkins testified in a York courtroom on Monday. Ricky Passmore’s youngest son ran to the neighbor’s home for help, Hawkins said, after watching his father throw his mother onto a couch and threaten her with a sword that Ricky Passmore pulled out from under his clothes. Micky Passmore is accused of following his brother into the house, but not harming anyone.
York police later stopped the Passmore brothers driving a car on U.S. 321 about 8 miles outside of Clover, Hawkins said. Inside the car, police found the sword, a bayonet attached to a loaded shotgun, a bladed paint scraper and a homemade macelike weapon fashioned from a pool ball tied to a pool stick.
On Monday, both Passmores – Ricky Passmore wearing a camouflage shirt and blue jean overalls – appeared in court and a jury was selected.
Before jurors were selected, Thomas Jeter, Micky Passmore’s court-appointed lawyer, asked Circuit Court Judge John Hayes to order separate trials. Jeter argued that prosecutors planned to introduce as evidence a recording of an “offensive” and “inflammatory” phone call Ricky Passmore made that would prejudice the jury against Micky Passmore.
In the call, which was played in court on Monday, Ricky Passmore was allegedly speaking to his daughter five hours before he broke into Coleman’s home. He accuses Coleman of “exposing” his children – two boys and a girl – to her interracial relationship with “Chip,” a black man. He calls Coleman several derogatory names and refers to Chip several times by using the N-word.
Ricky Passmore says on the recording that if his ex-wife “dated a white man, I’d be fine.”
In what prosecutors allege is Ricky Passmore’s attempt to recruit his daughter into his scheme, he asks her to let him know when Chip gets home. Then, he’d “roll over” and liberate his three children from “the monkeys.”
Micky Passmore’s name is not mentioned on the recording, but Jeter said after court it would unfairly point to his client as participating in a conspiracy.
After listening to the recording of the phone call, Hayes ordered that Micky Passmore would be tried separately.
During opening arguments, Jessica Holland, one of two assistant York County solicitors prosecuting Ricky Passmore, apologized to jurors for the offensive language and demeaning words they likely would hear during testimony. Christopher Epting, the other solicitor, showed members of the jury the weapons they say Ricky Passmore used to threaten his wife.
York County Public Defender Dan Hall, Ricky Passmore’s attorney, questioned Sgt. Hawkins about errors police made on an evidence recovery sheet and pressed him if he knew for a fact that Ricky Passmore had taken the sword out of the car. Hawkins’ answer was no.
The trial will resume Tuesday morning.