Man beaten in Erath County was begging for his life

Posted Thursday, Mar. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Anyone with information about the case or the whereabouts of the two suspects is asked to call the Erath County sheriff at 254-965-3338 or Crime Stoppers at 254-965-CASH

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(NOTE: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence.)

Ricky Bob Stephens had already been beaten once, and the men responsible wanted to see if he was dead.

It was now Sunday morning, so two of the men -- indentified in a criminal complaint as Dustin Drew Davis and Lanny Walton -- ventured out to the pasture where Stephens had been left and started beating him again.

Using large tree limbs, the men pounded Stephens, who was mostly unclothed and curled up in a fetal position on a mounds of rocks, covered with dried blood, according to the complaint.

He was begging for his life, screaming for them to stop.

As he covered his face with his forearms, Davis crashed a tree limb into Stephens' head, knocking him unconscious, according to the complaint.

A person witnessing the beating believed that Stephens was dead and pulled Davis away.

The suspects then left, leaving the bloodied-Stephens in the pasture at 29712 Farm Road 205, near the Erath and Hood county line, about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

That Feb. 17 afternoon, after the Erath County Sheriff's Department received a call about a suspiscious person on the property, an investigator was sent to the location.

Once there he found Stephens, 43, who lived in the Stephenville area, wearing only an insulated shirt that was wrapped around his waist.

He was taken by ambulance to Texas Health Resources hospital in Stephenville, where the severity of his injuries became clear.

Stephens had two cuts to the top of his head, which had to be closed with staples. He had been partially castrated, with one of his testicles being exposed. He had bleeding in his brain and a fractured eye socket, where soft tissue from his brain was seeping through.

He was transported by air ambulance to Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, where it was discovered that Stephens had second- and third-degree burns on his abdomen, lower back and hands.

Stephens was then transported to the burn unit at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Hospital officials are not permitted to disclose his current condition.

On March 14, almost a month after the beating, Erath County sheriff's deptuties arrested Davis, 25, in Stephenville, according to a news release. He remained in Erath County Jail on Wednesday facing charges of aggravated assault, a second-degree felony. No bail has been set.

Sheriff's investigators have obtained arrest warrants for Walton, 27, and Danny Dittoe, 39, the news release stated.

Chief Deputy Jason Upshaw said he could not comment on the suspected motive in the attack because of the ongoing investigation.

The complaint indicates it was premeditated.

Dittoe had contacted a woman who lived on the property on Feb. 16, asking her if he and a friend could stay at her house and work on a truck transmission. The woman was staying at her parent's house, which was nearby.

Investigators believe Dittoe received a phone call from Walton about 2:30 a.m. the next morning, telling him that they were going to bring Stephens to the property and kill him.

After apparently beating Stephens once, the suspects returned to the house. Later that morning, a crazy-acting Walton said he wanted to go back to the location to see if Stephens was still alive, the complaint states.

Returning to the pasture, the two men beat Stephens again, leaving him for dead, the complaint states.

Dittoe, according to the complaint, called the woman whose house he was staying in and asked her to take him to church, which she did.

She later told investigators that she now believes that Dittoe was trying to establish an alibi.

Staff writer Deanna Boyd contributed to this report.

Lee Williams, 817-390-7840

Twitter @leewatson

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