Jackson County, MO — A wedding reception is supposed to be a night of celebration and togetherness, KCTV.com reports.
But charges filed Tuesday chronicle a reception that erupted into a melee, leaving the mother of the bride paralyzed after being punched by one of the groom’s ushers and run over by a guest. And the alleged driver who caused the paralysis is no stranger to allegations of violent crime.
James Rhymer, 31, was charged with murder connected to the 2012 death of James Conklin. Conklin was found shot to death in a home in Kansas City. A witness told police she heard an argument leading up to the shooting, in which Rhymer accused Conklin of disrespecting his family.
Those charges were dropped, though, because witnesses changed their stories, according to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.
The second murder, involving a body set on fire and dumped in Cass County, led to a standoff last fall, and put Rhymer in jail, accused of firing the fatal shot.
But the most recent murder hadn’t happened yet when Rhymer came to the wedding reception at The Pavillion on E. U.S. Highway 40 in Kansas City last August. The bride said she never met him.
Court documents say he and three others, all relatives of the groom, punched and kicked a man there so badly that he passed out and needed facial reconstruction.
That victim, a man in his late 50s to early 60s, told police that Rhymer punched him in the face with brass knuckles, then the groom’s usher, 31-year-old Ryan Holcomb, hit him over the head with a glass beer mug. He said that after he fell to the ground, Holcomb and Rhymer and three others punched and kicked him until he lost consciousness. Holcomb has also been charged with assault, along with 38-year-old Jason Holcomb and 25-year-old Erik Holcomb.
Court records suggest the three accused Holcomb men are cousins. The fifth man has not yet been charged.
One witness told police that during the attack, they overheard someone saying, “Family doesn’t snitch on family.”
The mother of the bride, who is 59, told police she came outside to break things up and try to keep the group from driving off. That’s how she ended up partially paralyzed.
Court records say she reached into the car to keep the men from driving off. She told them Rhymer pulled her into the window and began hitting her, as Jason and Ryan Holcomb also took punches. She said she fell to the ground and Rhyman ran over her legs and back while driving off.
She had to have metal rods and plates surgically implanted into her back, according to the charges, and suffered “severe nerve damage and partial paralysis” requiring her to wear a back brace and leaving her still unable to walk without assistance.
That woman did not want to talk to KCTV5 about the ordeal and her daughter, who was also punched with brass knuckles, would only say that she’s divorced now because of what happened.
KCTV5 asked the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office why it took eight months to get Rhymer charged. A spokesman said police only forwarded the case last Friday. He said the investigation was complicated by the large number of witnesses and difficulty identifying everyone involved, particularly Rhymer, who was not family to the bride nor groom.
The three Holcombs were charged individually over the past seven months. Ryan Holcomb was charged on Sept. 25 with two counts of assault. Erik Holcomb was charged on March 18 with one count of assault. Jason Holcomb was charged April 14 with one count of assault. Rhymer was charged the same day with four counts of assault.
Rhymer did not have a lawyer as of Wednesday. Court documents say he refused to waive his right to give a statement.
He was already in jail on a $250,000 cash-only bond for the November murder. Now he has another $250,000 cash-only bond for the assault charges.