By Robin Fornoff
CMI Projects Editor
A cross-country road trip with a deadly ending in Clovis was either self-defense or murder District Court jurors were told Monday in opening statements by attorneys at the Chip Fox trial.
Fox, 37, is accused of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the August 2012 stabbing death of his friend, Kevin Reardon, 35, of Valencia, Calif.
Special Prosecutor Laura Sammons told jurors the pair and a female friend had stopped over in Clovis to visit Fox’s aunt during a road trip that took them from California to South Dakota and Austin, Texas.
“Three road warriors,” Sammons said, inhaling or “huffing” an aerosol dust cleaner to get high during the trip and just before the fatal stabbing outside the aunt’s home.
They had packed the car to start the trip home, Sammons said. Both men walked out to the car to fix a flat tire. Minutes later, Fox’s aunt and neighbors were all startled by a commotion and neighborhood dogs barking furiously, she said.
Sammons told jurors Fox, holding a bloody knife, walked up to a neighbor’s house and told the homeowner, “I just stabbed my best friend.”
Listen carefully, Sammons cautioned jurors, to other recordings made of Fox’s statements during the investigation, “and you will hear him say ‘I just flat killed someone over nothing.’”
Fox’s attorney and Public Defender Chris Christensen also asked jurors to pay close attention to testimony during the next five days of trial.
“Be critical,” Christensen said. “Pay attention to who said what.”
Christensen said jurors were going to have to consider self-defense and what it means to each of the 12 on the panel during deliberations.
“No one is happy to be here,” Christensen said. “It’s tragic no matter how you look at it. For either side.”
Police reports at the time of the homicide indicated Reardon, drifting in and out of consciousness, told investigators he and Fox had argued and Fox stabbed him. Officers said Reardon was reluctant at first to talk about the stabbing, saying he didn’t want to “rat” on his friend of three years.
Reardon died about six hours later at a Lubbock hospital.
Fox said Reardon did not physically assault him and he did not fear for his life, but was afraid that Reardon would hurt a neighbor, according to court records. Fox, according to police, said Reardon “freaked out” after huffing Dust-Off and ran into the knife Fox was holding.
The trial is expected to continue at least until Friday.