KOS SLAYING Lawyer: Ricciardi strategy avoided testimony at pretrial
Perry Ricciardi will testify at trial, according to his attorney.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The decision to keep Perry Ricciardi off the stand in a pretrial hearing was a strategic one, his attorney says.
"I didn't think what he had to say significantly increased my chances of winning this argument," said Dennis A. Elisco.
Ricciardi was expected to testify Thursday in a hearing concerning his contention that police refused him an attorney during questioning.
He is asking that all of his statements be thrown out before his upcoming trial.
Charges: Ricciardi, 21, David Garvey, 21, and William Monday, 22, all of Struthers, are accused in the Oct. 8, 2000, stabbing death of 12-year-old Shannon Kos of Youngstown.
Her body was found a few days later with multiple stab wounds, a slit throat and burns in a culvert in Mahoning Township, Lawrence County.
Ricciardi's mother, Barbara Snow, and several police officers testified over several days last month. The proceeding concluded Thursday afternoon when Ricciardi decided not to testify.
Snow said she repeatedly told police that her son wanted an attorney present when they questioned him Oct. 14, 2000.
Pennsylvania State Police officers also testified that Ricciardi asked them if he needed an attorney during questioning the night before at the Struthers Police Department.
State police said they immediately ended the interview and unsuccessfully tried to locate a public defender for Ricciardi. When one could not be found, they released him with the understanding that he would return the next day for more questioning.
Ricciardi's mother said they tried to call attorneys the day of the second interview, but could not reach any because it was a Saturday.
Police testified that Ricciardi never asked for an attorney during that Saturday interview.
Elisco said he decided not to have Ricciardi testify now because it could have opened the door for prosecutors to question him about the content of what he did and did not say during questioning.
Any inconsistent statements made now could also be used during trial to show that Ricciardi is not a credible witness, he said.
"I have enough information from what the officers and Barb Snow said. What Perry had to say won't contribute greatly. I don't want to risk giving the Commonwealth a blueprint of his testimony for trial," the defense attorney said. Elisco said Ricciardi will testify at trial.
What's next: Common Pleas Judge Dominick Motto said he will issue a decision on the defense's motion to suppress Ricciardi's statements to police after legal maneuverings are completed in about 60 days.
Ricciardi and the others could face the death penalty if convicted.
All three are charged with criminal homicide, conspiracy to commit criminal homicide, kidnapping, unlawful restraint, criminal conspiracy to commit rape and abuse of a corpse.