Man faces trial in Lockwood beating death
January 23, 2010
VIRGINIA CITY – Eileen Pruitt was intoxicated and suffered from cirrhosis of the liver, but the extensive injuries she sustained at the hands of a stranger in October are what killed her, a pathologist testified Friday.
The pathologist’s testimony, along with four others, was all that Storey County Justice of the Peace Annette Daniels needed to determine there was enough evidence to try Ryan Bonnett, 22, on murder charges.
Bonnett is accused of beating Pruitt to death on Oct. 18 after the two ran into each other on the street in Lockwood and had a heated exchange after Bonnett asked for a cigarette.
Washoe County Assistant Chief Medical Examiner Poitr Kubiczek said an Oct. 20 autopsy determined Pruitt, 47, died from “multiple blunt force injuries due to assault.”
Kubiczek said she suffered 15 rib fractures, a fractured eye socket, a bruised heart, hemorrhaging in the abdomen, kidney, diaphragm and brain, and she had an imprint on her face and forehead that looked like “the sole of a shoe.”
Kubiczek said that while Pruitt’s existing medical conditions may have complicated her injuries because they affect clotting, the manner of death was homicide.
Bonnett’s girlfriend, Nicole Martinez, was emotional as she told the court she and her boyfriend of eight months had gone into Reno about 3 p.m. Oct. 18 to drink at a motel with friends.
After Bonnett drank “four or five shots of Jagermeister,” said Martinez, the two went to the store to buy a fifth of whiskey.
Martinez said she drank “the neck” of the bottle, and Bonnett finished the rest.
When Bonnett later fell face first into a coffee table, Martinez said she determined it was time to take him home.
By the time they reached her parents’ house in Lockwood, they were arguing, she said.
She said Bonnett, angry and drunk, walked to the River Bend Community Center across the street and motioned to someone inside that he wanted a cigarette. He must have been rejected, she said, because he then asked a man in a car for a cigarette. Again, he came away without a cigarette.
Then, Pruitt walked by with her two dogs, said Martinez.
“Ryan leaned over and said, ‘Hey man, you got a cigarette?'” recalled Martinez. “And she whipped around, and I’m guessing she was upset he called her a man. They were both drunk.”
Martinez said the two muttered and cussed at one another, then Pruitt turned as if she was going to walk away.
“Then the dog went for me and I jumped back,” said Martinez.
She said Bonnett kicked at the dog.
“I heard a loud yelp and (Pruitt) went for Ryan,” she said.
Martinez said Bonnett swung at Pruitt and the two became “entangled.”
“As soon as they became entangled, I took off toward my house to get my dad,” she said.
When she got back outside Pruitt was lying in the road.
“The thing I remember seeing was Ryan walking around her kind of puffed up like a gorilla,” she said. “He was walking around her the last time and he kicked her in the back.”
Martinez said her stepfather, Storey County Commissioner Bob Kershaw, grabbed Bonnett from behind and shoved him away.
Bonnett began yelling, “He disrespected me. He disrespected me,” Martinez said.
After pacing for a bit and punching two mailboxes, Bonnett disappeared behind the community center, said Kathleen Kershaw, Martinez’s mother.
Angela Simons testified that she and her adult son were walking a few blocks away on Avenue De La Colours when they spotted Bonnett heading toward them.
“He came across the street very angry,” Simons said.
Simons said she stepped behind her son as Bonnett approached.
“He asked me if I’d just gotten up from the ass kicking he just gave me,” recalled Simons. “I said, ‘I don’t know who you are.'”
Simons and her son, a volunteer firefighter, talked with Bonnett for about five minutes. She said her son was able to calm Bonnett down because he knew him from school.
The group split up when Simons’ son saw the fire chief drive by and wanted to see where he was going, she said.
They headed toward the sirens and Bonnett wandered off, Simons said.
Before they split, Bonnett asked her for a cigarette.
She gave him one, she said.
Bonnett will appear in District Court on Feb. 19.