When Kentucky State Police arrived at the scene of a shooting in Blackey on Nov. 6, the refrigerator was tilted to one side, cabinet doors were open and a box of instant potatoes had been crushed, its content spread over the kitchen floor.
The body of Zachary Back lay in the middle of the floor, a single gunshot wound to the upper left chest, an apparent exit wound in the right side.
That is the scene KSP Detective Scott Caudill testified that he saw when he arrived at Chad Bolling’s trailer in Blackey, about 9 p.m. the night of the shooting. Caudill testified at a preliminary hearing for Bolling in Letcher District Court last week.
Back’s mother and Bolling’s ex-wife, Jessica Bolling, called state police at 8:38 p.m. Nov. 6 to report that her son had been fatally shot. When police arrived at the scene, Chad Bolling was at a relative’s house nearby and Back was dead on the kitchen floor of Bolling’s singlewide trailer.
Jessica Bolling told police her ex-husband had called her to come and calm down her son, and that she had taken him onto the porch to talk to him when she arrived. Caudill said when they re-entered the trailer, Bolling had come out of the hallway to the bedroom.
“She tried to push Mr. Back away from the area toward the door to leave, at which time she says Mr. Bolling pulled a pistol, the firearm in question, from behind his back and shot Mr. Back,” Caudill said.
He said Bolling, who pled not guilty, was arrested after he declined to talk to police without a lawyer present, but later said in a recorded statement with his attorney present that he shot Back, his former stepson, in self-defense. Caudill said Bolling told him that Back fired a shot out the door of the trailer, and then threatened to “shoot him in the head.” He said Bolling told him that Back hit him in the ribs with the butt of a rifle and choked him while holding him down on the kitchen floor and holding a rifle in his other hand.
Caudill said Bolling said he retreated to the bedroom for a gun when his ex-wife came and started talking to her son. He said he had just come back into the kitchen when Back charged at him, and he shot him.
Caudill said police found a spent cartridge from a .303 caliber rifle on the floor, and when they rolled Back’s body over to look for an exit wound, a bullet consistent in size with the .44 Magnum revolver Bolling said he used fell out of Back’s clothing. The rifle was not in sight, and Caudill said Back’s mother told him she found the rifle lying on the floor when she first arrived and had her son’s girlfriend, Felicia Watts, take it away. Caudill said Watts later told police she took the gun to the small outbuilding where the two lived in the yard behind Chad Bolling’s trailer.
Police located the rifle and “unrelated paraphernalia” in that building. When asked by Bolling’s attorney to tell what kind of paraphernalia he was referring to, Caudill answered it was drug related.
According to Caudill’s testimony, the argument stemmed from Bolling telling Back that he had told John Ellish, who also lived in the trailer, about something Back had taken earlier from Ellish’s bedroom. Caudill said according to Bolling, Back became angry when Bolling told him that he had informed Ellish. Caudill said Back took a modified .303 rifle from Ellish’s bedroom and sat on the couch and threatened to shoot Ellish when he came in the door. It was then, Caudill said Bolling told him, that Back had stood up, opened the front door and fired a shot outside, before returning to the inside, chambering another round and threatening him.
Bolling is charged with murder and first-degree wanton endangerment, a charge Caudill said stems from information that Jessica Bolling was in close proximity and possibly touching her son at the time he was shot.
Bolling is being held in the Letcher County Jail with no bond. His attorney asked last week that a bond be set, but so far, District Judge Kevin Mullins has not acted on the request. He told attorney Derek Howard that he would take the request under submission and make a decision later.