The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 26, 2012

Union County murder trial testimony: 'I looked up and saw a gun in my face'

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— LEWISBURG — Roderick Sims confessed to shooting Charity Spickler because he was mad at her for cheating on him and not letting him see their children, according to a taped statement played Thursday during his homicide trial in Union County Court.

“I shot Charity. I couldn’t take it any more. I went crazy,” Sims said during a police interrogation soon after the Sept. 27, 2008, shooting.

Sims, 50, is charged with criminal homicide, burglary and terroristic threats and could face life in prison for killing Spickler, his 27-year-old estranged fiancee.

He claims the shooting wasn’t intentional and he didn’t mean to kill her. Sims is represented by Danville attorneys Michael Dennehy and John McLaughlin.

District Attorney D. Peter Johnson said the evidence shows Sims stalked Spickler for days before he shot her “execution style” with a single bullet in the back of the head.

On the night of the slaying, Spickler was with Eric Hitchcock, a Harrisburg man she met a few weeks earlier on a social website, and friend Lorraine Reed, at Reed’s 55 S. Water St. apartment in Lewisburg.

During the evening, Hitchcock testified, he spotted a man outside prowling near the apartment building, which caused Spickler and Reed to become “hysterical” and lock the doors and windows.

Sometime after 11 p.m. as Reed worked on a computer in the living room and Spickler was receiving a back massage from Hitchcock in a bedroom, they heard the sound of the back door being kicked in.

“I saw Rod Sims come in with a gun pointed straight toward me,” said Reed, who pleaded with him not to shoot her and tried to warn Spickler and Hitchcock.

Hitchcock said he jumped off the bed, where he was massaging Spickler’s bare back, and ran to the closed bedroom door when he heard the commotion.

“I (saw) an arm and a gun” coming through the bedroom door, he said.

Hitchcock tried to close the door, but Sims kicked at it so hard it came off the hinges, he said.

“I looked up and saw a gun in my face,” Hitchcock said, describing how he slipped out of the room and ran outside wearing only a shirt, underwear and socks.

Sims immediately turned toward Spickler, who was cowering on the floor near the bed.

“She was screaming,” Hitchcock said.

Outside the apartment seconds later, he heard the sound of a gunshot.

Under cross-examination, Hitchcock said he didn’t know Spickler had been in a six-year relationship with Sims and downplayed her panicked reaction earlier in the evening about seeing a man near the apartment building.

“I told them it would be all right,” he said.

Immediately after the shooting, Sims began making calls on his cell phone in the bedroom while Spickler lay dying facedown in a pool of blood.

He kept medical personnel and police from entering the room for more than 20 minutes as he spoke with then-Lewisburg police Sgt. Frederick Hetrick, now serving with the Buffalo Valley Regional Police, threatening to kill himself with the .38-caliber revolver he held at his head.

Sims’ mood changed frequently as he sobbed and screamed in anger during the taped call.

“I didn’t want to do this,” he said repeatedly on the phone. “All for a bunch of lies. Why did you do this to me?”

Hetrick testified that it seemed he was yelling at the victim.

At the police station about an hour later, Sims said his anger at Spickler for leaving him a month earlier, cheating on him with other men and taking their three young children whom he hadn’t seen much since, led to the shooting.

Sims admitted looking through the windows of Reed’s apartment just before the shooting and seeing Spickler with another man.

“I saw her sitting on the couch with this guy,” he told police. “It infuriated me that they were lying to me. I was mad at her.”