The judge said the defendant never directly asked for an attorney.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Statements a Struthers man made to police about the stabbing death of a 12-year-old girl are admissible as evidence at his trial, a judge ruled.
Perry S. Ricciardi II, 22, had asked Judge Dominick Motto of Lawrence County Common Pleas Court to bar everything Ricciardi said to police and a jail counselor in October 2000 at his upcoming trial in the stabbing death of Shannon Leigh Kos of Youngstown.
Ricciardi, along with David C. Garvey, 21, William G. Monday, 23, both also of Struthers, are accused in her Oct. 8, 2000, death. Her body was discovered a few days later in a culvert in Mahoning Township, Lawrence County.
Ricciardi asked that statements he made to police before and after his arrest be barred from trial because he did not have an attorney present during questioning.
His attorney Dennis A. Elisco contended that police continued to question Ricciardi even after he asked if he needed an attorney. Elisco could not be reached for comment on the judge's decision.
Judge Motto ruled that Ricciardi never directly asked for an attorney. He asked police if he needed an attorney, the judge continued.
"It is his responsibility to make the decision whether or not to avail himself of counsel," the judge wrote in his decision.
Judge Motto also agreed to allow prosecutors to use statements Ricciardi made to a jail counselor shortly after his arrest.
Ricciardi said he thought the conversation was privileged, but Judge Motto said the comments were motivated by Ricciardi's own agenda and not questions by the counselor.
Ricciardi "felt that if other inmates knew what really happened, they would not make threats against the defendant or call him names," the judge said.
Ricciardi and Garvey are still awaiting trial on charges of criminal homicide, criminal conspiracy to commit homicide, criminal conspiracy to commit rape, kidnapping, unlawful restraint and abuse of a corpse.
Monday pleaded guilty to criminal homicide in April in exchange for a life sentence in prison. He had faced the death penalty if he had been convicted at trial.