Drug use, possible 'torture' among details revealed in Ruch homicide
The way 23-year-old Alexis Lynn Stormo died is among many details newly revealed in a Ruch-area homicide case from summer 2016.
Her boyfriend, Todd Levi Wilcox, 36, remains lodged in the Jackson County Jail on pending charges of murder and first-degree manslaughter in Stormo’s death on or about July 26, 2016, but no trial date is yet scheduled.
Elizabeth J.C. Baker, Wilcox’s court-appointed defense lawyer, claims in court documents that the case remains pending because of difficulties and delays collecting all available evidence from police and prosecutors.
Stormo died of blunt force trauma, according to autopsy results mentioned in a motion to compel discovery filed April 30 by Baker, a Eugene-based defense lawyer who often focuses on cases involving mental health and who has represented Wilcox since last summer.
Baker states that she came on board after Wilcox’s previous court-appointed lawyer reported the case to Oregon Public Defense services as a capital case — one that could end in the death penalty if Wilcox is convicted.
“During a previous settlement conference, an offer was extended for Todd Wilcox to plead to intentional murder or be charged with Aggravated Murder under the theory of ‘torture’,” Baker writes. The document offers no more details on why torture may be suspected.
Baker claims there were signs of drug cocaine and alcohol use in Stormo’s system, multiple drugs in Wilcox’s system when he was arrested, and references to witness reports of strange behavior that Baker writes aren’t explained by drugs and alcohol.
Baker states that toxicology results point to heavy use close to the time of Stormo’s death.
“Ms. Stormo’s blood alcohol was .19 and contained cocaine and metabolites of cocaine (produced when someone ingests alcohol and cocaine simultaneously),” Baker writes. She states the heavy use occurred sometime between leaving a neighbor’s home at 10 p.m. July 26 and 2:11 a.m. July 27.
At the time of his arrest the next morning, Wilcox’s urine contained cocaine, cocaine and alcohol metabolites (but no unmetabolized alcohol), the sedative ketamine, the anti-anxiety medication buspirone and marijuana, Baker’s motion states.
At 2:11 a.m. July 27, Wilcox’s younger brother called 911, telling police that Wilcox and Stormo were believed to be injured or overdosed at Wilcox’s home at 403 Tumbleweed Trail outside Jacksonville, according to Baker’s account.
Wilcox and Stormo had spent the day before with a friend on the river, and later with a nearby neighbor, according to the document. Both witnesses said Wilcox had behaved bizarrely that day.
For example, the neighbor told police that Wilcox had been “making no sense and talking nonstop,” the document states.
Although Wilcox apparently had been drinking, Baker says in her motion that the behavior was “not attributed to alcohol or controlled substances,” though she doesn’t provide further explanation.
The neighbor reported that Stormo had two glasses of wine during the visit but otherwise behaved in a “normal fashion.” The neighbor never saw Stormo use any drugs.
When Wilcox and Stormo left the neighbor’s home about 10 p.m. that night, Wilcox took with him a bottle of Maker’s Mark whiskey he’d been drinking, but left behind his cellphone. Both Wilcox and Stormo left behind their shoes at the neighbor’s home.
The neighbor told police she watched them drive away, stopping for a moment at Wilcox’s brother’s trailer on his property near his marijuana grow and where Stormo kept most of her belongings. Wilcox and Stormo then drove up to his residence, according to Baker.
Wilcox flagged his brother for help because he didn’t have his phone, and his brother called 911 from the home of a neighbor.
Wilcox’s brother helped police gain entry to the locked residence after slipping through a window, where they found Stormo dead on the bedroom floor.
“Officers awakened Defendant (Wilcox), who acted in a bizarre manner, seemingly unaware Alexis Stormo was deceased on the floor beside his bed,” Baker writes.
Upon Wilcox’s arrest, Jackson County sheriff’s deputies placed a recording device in the patrol vehicle, Baker states, because he was “rambling and yelling random things” that Baker describes as “more or less invoking right to counsel.” Baker cites the audio recording from the patrol car as one of many pieces of evidence she still needs from police and prosecutors.
Baker states that she was assigned the case after his former lawyer, Donald Scales, withdrew at Wilcox’s request, apparently over frustrations stemming from Scales’ difficulty obtaining toxicology results, which apparently took close to a year after the crime, according to earlier news reports.
Baker lists 31 pieces of evidence that needed repeated requests to obtain, or have yet to be delivered despite as many as 10 requests. Baker uses the list to point to “a pattern of denying requests, minimizing repeated requests, recharacterizing requests and failing to attend to reasonable requests.”
Similarly, Scales mentioned in his August 2017 motion to withdraw as attorney that he made four attempts for Wilcox’s toxicology analyses, which led to a breakdown that caused Wilcox to file a grievance against Scales with the Oregon State Bar, which the state bar ultimately dismissed. (Clarified)
The toxicology results weren’t ready until June 2017, the document notes, but by then Wilcox had lost trust in Scales’ firm.
Baker makes claims that drugs and alcohol are intentionally being left out of prosecutors’ police reports and evidence.
“No discovery thus far contains any notations of odor of alcohol or obvious signs of controlled substance use,” for either Wilcox’s brother or Wilcox, Baker writes.
No trial date is yet set in Wilcox’s felony charges of murder and first-degree manslaughter. His next hearing is set for May 15, during which Baker will seek to compel prosecutors to release the remaining pieces of evidence.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.