LAWRENCE COUNTY Defendant gives reasons for holes in story
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Jury deliberations were expected to start today in the homicide trial of Perry S. Ricciardi II.
Ricciardi, 22, formerly of Struthers, was the final witness in the two-week trial in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.
Ricciardi spent two days recounting his actions surrounding the stabbing death of 12-year-old Shannon Leigh Kos of Youngstown. Her throat was cut in a culvert in Mahoning Township, Lawrence County, on Oct. 8, 2000.
Ricciardi, along with William Monday, 23, and David Garvey, 22, both formerly of Struthers, were arrested and charged with criminal homicide.
Monday pleaded guilty to homicide charges last year and is serving a life sentence in prison; Garvey is awaiting trial. Ricciardi could face the death penalty if convicted of homicide.
Ricciardi, in his two days of testimony, told jurors that he never intended to harm Shannon and didn't believe his friends were serious when they said they wanted to rape and kill her.
Most of Thursday's testimony was spent recounting a nine-hour interview he had with Pennsylvania State Police before his arrest.
Ricciardi contends Cpl. John Ryhal told him to leave out parts of his story that would help Monday and Garvey when he made a tape-recorded statement. That statement was played during the prosecutor's portion of the trial.
"He also told me I didn't have to say anything for myself. He told me I didn't need my thoughts and feelings [about the killing] because he knew I didn't want anything to happen," Ricciardi said.
But Ricciardi said Ryhal's tone changed shortly after the tape recorded statement was made.
"He told me I was a piece of s---, and he told me it was my fault that Shannon was dead and I made him lie to my mother because now he had to call her and tell her I wasn't coming home," Ricciardi said.
Ricciardi added that when police arrested him, they kept him in a chair next to a desk where Polaroid photographs of the victim's body were displayed.
Ricciardi also said that a Lawrence County Jail counselor told him their conversations would be confidential. The counselor, however, wrote a report about those conversations and sent it to the warden and eventually to prosecutors. The report detailed Ricciardi's version of the homicide.
Ricciardi, however, contends that the jail counselor didn't write down everything from their conversation and that is why his testimony in court differs from the counselor's version of the murder.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Minett in cross-examination pressed the point that Ricciardi has had 27 months since Shannon's death to go over police statements and other documents before testifying.
Under cross-examination, Ricciardi continued to say that he didn't take Monday seriously when he proposed raping and killing Shannon. He said he only believed he was serious when Monday grabbed Shannon and put a knife to her throat.
Minett asked why Ricciardi didn't take the knife from Monday when he held it to Shannon's neck.
"'Cause he's a lunatic. At the point where he grabbed her, everything changed," Ricciardi said.
After Ricciardi's testimony, defense lawyer Dennis A. Elisco asked that Ricciardi be acquitted of all charges. That motion was denied by Judge J. Craig Cox.