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Hudson man claims 2011 shooting of roommate was in self-defense

Brian Fickes says he killed his roommate in self-defense.
Brian Fickes says he killed his roommate in self-defense.
Published Oct. 18, 2013

NEW PORT RICHEY — Brian Fickes told a jury he said a prayer after he shot and killed Kim Cox.

"I was numb," Fickes said Thursday on the witness stand. "I put the gun on the floor and went to sleep."

Fickes testified on the third day of his first-degree murder trial and claimed self-defense. Cox, 69, was shot three times in back of head and neck and once in the forehead, according to testimony.

Prosecutors claimed Cox's killing was premeditated. Fickes' attorney previously filed a motion to dismiss the case citing Florida's "stand your ground" law, which Circuit Judge William Webb denied. In court documents, Fickes said Cox had pointed a gun at his head.

Fickes was staying at Cox's home in Country Club Estates. In late May of 2011, several days went by that Cox's children and friends didn't hear from him. They called authorities.

A Pasco sheriff's deputy went to the house to check on him and smelled something foul. He discovered Cox's decomposed body underneath piles of trash in the garage. Fickes had told neighbors Cox was on a fishing trip.

Forensic evidence showed pools of Cox's blood in the padding of the carpet in the room where he was killed. A trail of blood residue stretched from the bedroom to the garage. Surveillance footage and receipts showed Fickes buying bleach.

Fickes had originally been staying with girlfriend Ashley Paquette and her family across the street from Cox. They moved to a nearby trailer park but then broke up. That's when Fickes moved in with Cox, who soon wanted Fickes to leave.

On the stand, Fickes said he had a confrontation in the kitchen and Cox pointed a rifle at him, forced him on the ground and poked him in the head with the barrel of the gun.

Cox then went to the bathroom, leaving the rifle against a wall, Fickes said. He told prosecutor Chris Labruzzo he couldn't leave the house through the front door because it was barricaded with furniture.

Once Fickes had the rifle, he said, the situation changed.

"At that point I didn't feel like he was a threat," Fickes said.

Fickes claimed Cox sat with his back to him rifling through a box. He thought he saw him pull out something that might have been a gun. Labruzzo asked what the item actually was. Fickes said it was a plaque, but he only saw it after the shooting.

"(Cox) didn't say anything," Labruzzo said. "He made no threats to you. All the while you could've left with the rifle?"

"I suppose so," Fickes said.

The case is expected to go to the jury today.