Rick Park appeared in Madison County District Court on Thursday and pleaded not guilty to shooting and killing 36-year old Helena resident Nicole Watson during a custody exchange in Ennis last month.
The 53-year old faces charges of deliberate homicide and assault with a weapon.
Police responded to a reported gunshot within Ennis town limits at around 2:01 p.m. on October 23. Charging documents say Watson was laying on the ground in a pool of blood outside Park’s residence when officers arrived. Emergency responders attempted life-saving measures on Watson at the scene before she was taken to Madison Valley Medical Center in Ennis, where she died from gunshot injuries.
According to court documents, Watson and her husband arrived at Park’s residence for a child custody exchange involving a five-year-old boy. Her husband told police in a witness interview that about a minute after Watson knocked on the door, Park came out with a pistol pointed directly at her.
Watson’s husband said Park then shot Watson in the face. She fell to the ground and was attempting to get back up when Park allegedly shot her again in the head.
Court documents say Park then pointed the pistol at Watson’s husband and said he had better call 911. The husband ran away, called 911, and ran to the residence of a nearby off-duty Madison County Sheriff’s deputy to summon help.
Law enforcement officers arriving at the scene said Park was standing outside next to Watson and admitted to police that he shot her. Police then escorted Park inside to retrieve his gun, a Springfield XD .45 caliber pistol. Two fired .45 caliber cartridge casings were found near Watson’s body. Park was taken into custody by police and a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer and was taken to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.
Bond for Park was set at $1 million.