By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The man charged with forcing a woman from a residence on U.S. 25 to accompany him, then sexually assaulting her, could face a grand jury indictment next month.
Ricky N. North, 48, was arraigned on Wednesday and is set for a preliminary hearing in Laurel District Court on Sept. 24. He continues to be held in the Laurel County Detention Center under a $100,000 cash bond for charges of second-degree rape, kidnapping an adult, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
North can waive his right to have a hearing on Tuesday and have the evidence in the case presented to a Laurel grand jury in October, or he can choose to have the evidence presented in a court hearing on Tuesday. If he decides to hold the hearing, evidence from the arresting officers will be presented before the prosecution and defense attorneys, with each asking questions regarding the incident. After all the evidence is presented, the Laurel District Judge hearing the case will determine whether the evidence given indicates a felony offense has been committed. If the judge rules the evidence is sufficient for a felony charge, he will then rule that ‘probable cause’ exists and refer the case to the grand jury for possible indictment.
Kentucky law restricts felony cases from being tried at the district court level, and all felony cases must be sent before a grand jury for review. If the grand jury decides there is enough evidence to warrant the felony charge, they return an indictment against the accused, and that person must be formally charged at the circuit court level, and the arraignment, setting of the bond, and future court dates are set by the circuit court judge.
The charges against North came after he was arrested on Monday morning after police received a complaint about a woman screaming for help from a residence on Echo Valley Road, seven miles south of London.
The victim of North’s abduction and rape said she was not acquainted with North, but that he had forced her at gunpoint from a residence on U.S. 25, then drove her to a residence on Echo Valley Road. The woman said North had sex with her against her will, and she reportedly had cuts, abrasions and bruises on her body.
After the attack, however, the woman managed to get away from North, and hid in a nearby camper, taking refuge under some blankets to escape her attacker. Laurel County Sheriff’s deputies Tyler Morris and Mikey Ashurst and Sgt. Brett Reeves found her there, at which time she told them North might have gone into the wooded area nearby to find her. She also informed them North might be armed.
With the assistance of Constable Denver May, the three Sheriff’s officials located North in that wooded area and placed him under arrest. A shotgun was found under the porch of the residence and was identified as the weapon used to threaten the victim.
With a prior felony conviction, North is not allowed to possess a firearm of any type, which resulted in the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was charged with the same offense just five months ago.
North lists a long legal history that includes a felony charge of receiving stolen property and resisting arrest.