VINITA — Quadruple murder suspect Ronnie Busick has been offered “immunity and reward money” in change for information on an almost two-decade-old case involving the disappearance of two Craig County teenage girls, according to a court document filed Friday.
The problem is his attorneys claim Busick can’t remember anything about the slayings of Danny and Kathy Freeman and the disappearance of their 16-year-old daughter, Ashley, and her best friend, Lauria Bible.
Attorneys for the 67-year-old man, with a history of drug and alcohol abuse and gunshot fragments lodged in his head, said Busick sometimes forgets the name of his own attorney, Gregg Graves, according to a nine-page competency document filed in Craig County District Court.
“If you know how to play the system, you know how to play the system,” said Lorene Bible, Lauria’s mother.
Members of the Bible family seated in the first row in a courtroom Friday watched as Busick used a cane to stand when Special Judge Jacqueline Stout ordered him to undergo three competency examinations before returning to court on July 12 for a status conference.
“He (Busick) knew we were there,” Bible said.
Bible said the family was told early in Busick’s investigation he had been offered immunity and reward money.
“They agreed to appoint an expert by the judge to evaluate (Busick),” Craig County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Michelle Lowry said.
The Oklahoma Forensic Center will likely handle the evaluation and the state and the defense will also have Busick evaluated, she said.
Busick’s overall IQ score of 74 is the borderline range of intelligence, and “was indicative of acquired neurocognitive impairment,” according to a June 12 letter from Gilbert Martinez, a forensic neuropsychologist, to Busick’s legal team.
Martinez noted he didn’t have Busick’s complete medical file. Individuals with similar scores “are often incompetent to stand trial,” the legal document states.
“However, the majority of Mr. Busick’s scores on measures of mental fluency, problem solving, thinking and flexibility were in the impaired range and well below expected levels for his age and demographic history,” the letter states.
A September 12, 2009, a CT scan of Busick’s head revealed “numerous metallic bullet fragments in the inferior frontal and high right parietal regions with associated encephalomalacia,” the letter states.
Busick suffered a gunshot wound to the head in 1978.
The Labette County (Kansas) Sheriff’s office declined to release the Aug. 30, 1978, records, citing the current investigation.
The combination of the gunshot wound, and his drug and alcohol history all contribute to the theory Busick “may suffer from brain damage,” according to his attorneys.
Busick is being held on $1 million bail in connection with the slayings.
Kathy and Danny Freeman were fatally shot, and their mobile home was set on fire on Dec. 30, 1999. Authorities believe that Lauria and Ashley were kidnapped, tied up, wrapped and held in a mobile home in Picher for a “matter of days” before being strangled, according to an arrest affidavit filed in Busick’s case.
Warren Phillip Welch II and David Pennington, both now deceased, were also part of the killings, according to prosecutors. Welch died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and Pennington’s death was drug-related.