LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Randall Buford, 44, is facing life in prison. He has a long criminal history and in 2020, he was charged with murder. He doesn’t shy away from that. “I just. I just had enough. You know? I shot him,” Buford said.
But Randall Buford wants you to know what happened 30 years earlier… the crimes he said were committed against him. He believes understanding his past is integral to understanding why he did what he did.
“Growing up the way I did, I don’t have any respect for the system,” he said. “I’ve experienced and seen every brokenness of it.”
As a young child, he was put up for adoption in Paducah. A man named Darrell Buford and his wife adopted Randall and his younger brother.
The local newspaper called it “a love story,” but Randall said the home was dangerous from the beginning.
“We immediately were victims of sexual abuse. Darrell was abusing us almost daily,” he said.
Only five years after the adoption, Darrell was convicted on five counts of sex abuse involving his young children.
“He plead[ed] guilty, got a ten-year sentence. I think he shock probated about ten months later. But during the course of that, we’re forced to go visit him in the prison every weekend.”
Randall said the abuse continued beyond that criminal conviction though, and he claims he couldn’t escape it. The convicted child predator was allowed back into the home, with the children he abused.
“You know being that young, going through that stuff it was uncomfortable. You’ve already told. You’re still dealing with it. Who do you tell?” At 11 years old, with no protection from the state, Randall said he had to find his own way out.
“I start running away, and they start sending me to different boys camps around the state. I’d always give them trouble in the camps, I wouldn’t cooperate with therapy and stuff. I’d get out and they’d send me right back to the house,” Randall said.
Randall says he was forced to have a relationship with his abuser, a relationship he calls complicated.
“It’s almost an unnatural thing because here you are, your abuser, you’re forced to be around him so there’s an attachment,” he explained. “And he would be the only person in the world that would help me financially, or when I needed any type of help.”
Randall’s legal troubles continued into his adult life, with multiple criminal convictions and prison sentences. When he would be released from jail, he would often call Darrell. When he got out on probation, Darrell’s address would be the one he used for home incarceration.
But he said this was problematic for him, and in 2017, the weekend he landed one of his more serious charges, he said it stemmed from an interaction with Darrell.
Randall had used Darrell’s address to serve the remainder of his time on home incarceration. But shortly after arriving, Randall said he knew the arrangement would not work.
“He immediately starts his stuff, so I call the [Home Incarceration Program] office. I tell them ‘Hey I’m having problems out here, I need an immediate address change.’ The office told me that the problem was that I didn’t know how to listen. I didn’t know how to follow the rules and he didn’t give it to me. So, I said ok. This was on Saturday. I couldn’t call my attorney, there was no one I could call, so I cut my bracelet and I left,” Randall explained.
After Randall left the house that day, he and another man were involved in a road rage shooting that injured two adults and two children. He was charged with attempted murder. Randall said he was in the car but did not have the gun or fire the shots. He eventually took a plea deal for four counts of facilitation to assault.
He said the entire situation could be traced back to his interaction with Darrell, and the state’s refusal to help him when he said he needed out.
‘Get in the shower.’
On Jan. 10, 2020, Randall said he went to Darrell’s house for help. That’s the day he killed him.
Randall Buford: “I walk up to the office, he’s working on his computer, we’re just talking and he said ‘Hey, go get in the shower.’ And it’s just the gravity of everything… the gravity of my life, the gravity of my circumstances in that moment and what I was having to do for this help. It just… it just weighed in on me. That’s when I shot him.”
Shay McAlister: “Do you think Darrell was going to, or did he ask you to, do something sexual with him?”
Randall Buford: “Yes ma’am. That’s what it always was when I went out. That’s all it ever was.”
Shay McAlister: “Did you call for help?”
Randall Buford: “No mam. I grabbed his phone and his wallet and I left. I went back on the streets and a couple weeks later is when they catch me.”
Randall said he’s never denied the murder, admitting to police what he did and how he did it the day they found him.
Now, facing a murder charge, he wants the chance to explain. A chance he believes will come inside a courtroom.
Randall is representing himself in court. He said he plans to use Kentucky’s self-defense statute to defend against his murder charge.
“If I have legally done something wrong then ok, I deserve to be punished,” he said. “The law says I didn’t, the law says I acted in self-defense.”
The law reads: “Deadly physical force… is justifiable… when the defendant believes such force is necessary to protect himself… against sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat.”
Ultimately it will be up to a jury to decide if that applies to Randall’s case.
“There’s times I felt like I’ve regretted it but at the same time I understood, had I not been around him, it never would have happened,” he said. “I was forced to develop this relationship with him, which I never should have been.”
Randall believes he was failed by the state of Kentucky on more than one occasion, but most notably, as a child. A child that was put into the system and then, put into the hands of a predator and left there.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is responsible for overseeing the public and private organizations that care for foster children.
WHAS11 reached out to the state agency to find out how Randall’s case fell through the cracks…how a child was forced to live with a man convicted of sexually abusing him. The Cabinet didn’t directly answer the question but provided a statement which reads in part:
While we cannot predict every possible outcome, Kentucky has taken great strides in ensuring the safety and stability of all children and youth in out-of-home care. The Department for Community Based Services and many of our private partners have implemented the SAFE home study process, and all foster and adoption approval agencies are required to complete background checks using the National Background Check Program (NBCP).
The National Background Check Program helps to ensure that all necessary background checks are completed for each individual in the household including state criminal records, FBI criminal history, sexual offender registry, child abuse and neglect history and out-of-state checks as appropriate.
With the implementation of SAFE home studies and thorough background checks, the process to become an approved foster and/or adoptive parent and continuing assessment throughout the life of the case helps better ensure the safety and stability of children in out of home care.
A trial date for Randall’s case has not been set, however, his next court appearance is on July 25.
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