The judge rejected a motion for acquittal.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Before the penalty phase of the homicide trial of Perry S. Ricciardi II begins Monday, Judge J. Craig Cox will rule on a defense motion that the death penalty should not be considered.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated for about six hours Thursday, began deliberations again Friday morning and returned with a guilty verdict about 1:30 p.m. The jury found Ricciardi, formerly of Struthers, guilty of first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy, kidnapping and unlawful restraint in the Oct. 8, 2000, death of Shannon Leigh Kos, 12, of East Midlothian Boulevard, Youngstown.
The jury, in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court, returned a verdict of innocent on a charge of abuse of a corpse.
Judge Cox said he considered sequestering the jury in a local hotel over the weekend, but chose not to, aware that some might have made weekend plans. He warned jurors that it would be more difficult not to discuss the trial or view media reports about it because they had returned a verdict and had two days rather than just one night before returning to court.
Before the verdict was read, Judge Cox warned that any emotional outbursts or other disturbances would bring contempt of court charges to those responsible. Ricciardi, his family members and family of Shannon showed little emotion as the verdicts were read.
Ricciardi was charged, along with William Monday, 23, and David Garvey, 22, both also formerly of Struthers, in the death of Shannon. Her body was found in a culvert off of East River Road in Lawrence County with multiple stab wounds and a slit throat. Her body had also been burned.
Monday pleaded guilty to homicide charges last year and is serving a life sentence in prison; Garvey is awaiting trial.
After the verdict Defense Attorney Dennis A. Elisco made a motion for acquittal, which Judge Cox denied.
Judge Cox is to hear Elisco's arguments that Ricciardi should not be eligible for the death penalty at 8:45 a.m. Monday. If Judge Cox denies that motion, attorneys will begin the penalty phase to the jury at 9:30 a.m., and the jury could order the death penalty on the first-degree murder conviction.
Elisco said he expected to be saddened by a guilty verdict, but was instead angry when the verdict was read. He said he will retry the case and hopes to be back in court on Ricciardi's behalf within two years for the "right verdict," which he said is "painfully obvious."
Lawrence County District Attorney Matthew Mangino said the jury's first-degree murder conviction and the guilty verdicts on other counts are justice for Shannon Kos and her family. He said the jury's verdict is "what we set out to do. We presented 34 witnesses, 49 pieces of evidence, and pieced it together."