The man accused of shooting the door of Big Lots and entering the store in search of his ex-girlfriend took the stand in his defense on Wednesday.
Reagan Todd Horton, 49, faces four charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a charge of burglary of a habitation with a deadly weapon and a charge of deadly conduct.
Attorney Al Charanza is representing Horton in his case and District Attorney Joe Martin is prosecuting. Visiting Judge John Delaney is presiding over the case.
Charanza’s opening arguments centered on Horton’s mental health. He said only half the story had been told thus far, and that Horton was not in his right mind the day of the Big Lots shooting incident.
“Not all crimes are committed by persons in their right mind,” Charanza said. “Those who are not in their right mind are legally insane.
“Reagan Todd Horton on May 24, 2019, was not the same. Not acting in the right mind.”
Horton took the stand Wednesday afternoon to testify about his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, his mental health and the incident that led to his arrest. He said their relationship was fine at first, though they had some rocky moments such as an affair his ex-girlfriend had recently mentioned during her testimony and an argument that left her bleeding and requiring an emergency room visit. Horton insisted his ex-girlfriend was struck by a piece of glass during that incident, but she said he had struck her with a plastic tub.
Concerning his mental health, Horton said he was aware he was mentally ill and that he visited Burke for help. He had medication and said his relationship with his ex-girlfriend improved somewhat.
The day of the incident, Horton said he went to Big Lots earlier before the shooting to speak with his ex-girlfriend. Previously, she said he had come at her in his vehicle in the parking lot. Horton said that didn’t happen, and that he had brought her breakfast.
That morning, Horton said he had a severe headache that felt as if he had been hit in the head with a baseball bat. He said he took medication for it and went to sleep, only to wake up later when the sheriff’s office arrived at his home to apprehend him for the shooting incident. He remembered telling detectives he was at home asleep when the shooting occurred, and he didn’t believe it until he saw the video footage.
Horton testified that he had no recollection of the shooting nor his communications with his ex-girlfriend after their first encounter at Big Lots.
He also said his ex-girlfriend was lying during her testimony in which she spoke about Horton being abusive.
Martin scrutinized Horton’s statement and noted he appeared to know well enough to leave the store after entering before the police arrived. At Martin’s questioning, Horton agreed that the act was awful and that he should be held accountable, but also said he wasn’t in his right mind when it occurred.
Charanza also called upon Angelina County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Crystal Tovar and Burke mental health crisis assessor Paul Taylor to speak about his initial mental health assessment from when he was first booked in the jail. Stovall said a member of Horton’s family called the jail concerned, and Taylor said Horton appeared somewhat confused at the jail, unsure why he was arrested, but calm and courteous otherwise.
Horton’s sister, mother, father and step-mother also testified and spoke about his past issues with mental health. All said they were aware that Horton was diagnosed with depression and mentioned episodes in which he would withdraw from contacting his family, sometimes for weeks at a time. His father said he was moody during 2019 and had stopped working around 2018. Prior to that, Horton’s step-mother said he had such episodes of withdrawal beginning in 2010. Horton’s mother also said he would have memory issues as far back as when he was a child.
Before Charanza began his case, Martin had the jail calls Horton made to his ex-girlfriend played for the court. In them, Horton tried to convince her to clear his name and accused her of making up accusations about him. During the call, Horton said he wasn’t at Big Lots to shoot anyone despite telling investigators he didn’t remember being at the store.
Despite the shooting incident and the rough nature of their relationship, Horton’s ex-girlfriend said she wished him the best in the jail calls due to his mental health issues.
The defense rested its arguments following Horton’s mother’s testimony.