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NEW CASTLE Jurors return to deliberate Ricciardi case



Published: Sun, February 16, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Prosecutors said the girl was killed because she threatened to turn in the men.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Jury deliberations in the homicide trial of Perry S. Ricciardi II were expected to resume this morning.

Jurors spent about six hours deliberating Thursday evening before asking the judge to be released for the evening.

The six-man, six-woman jury asked the judge to define the various degrees of homicide before deciding they could not deliberate any longer.

Judge J. Craig Cox instructed jurors to return for more deliberations at 9 a.m. today.

Jurors heard about five hours of closing arguments earlier Thursday from defense lawyer Dennis A. Elisco and Assistant District Attorney Thomas Minett.

Ricciardi, 22, formerly of Struthers, is accused in the stabbing death of 12-year-old Shannon Leigh Kos of Youngstown. He could face the death penalty if jurors convict him of first-degree murder.

William Monday, 23, and David Garvey, 22, both formerly of Struthers, were also arrested in Shannon's death. Monday pleaded guilty to homicide charges last year and is serving a life sentence; Garvey is awaiting trial.

Comments about police

Elisco, in his closing arguments, told jurors that Ricciardi was the victim of overzealous police and prosecutors who were looking for another suspect. The defense attorney argued that his client went willingly to police to help put Garvey and Monday behind bars.

"The Commonwealth and its officers don't care about the truth. They just want to win," Elisco said.

Elisco contends that police officers decided early on that Ricciardi was involved and they used lies during police interviews to get more information from his client.

"They say it's necessary [to lie] to get to the truth. It's necessary in their minds to get what they believe is the truth. They play judge and jury because they are so sure their investigation abilities are so good," Elisco said.

But Minett argued in his closing statement that it was Ricciardi who was lying during police interviews.

"We saw this defendant over and over again not be truthful. He was minimizing the events," Minett said.

Minett told jurors that prosecutors think Shannon was killed to eliminate her as a witness against the men.

According to police statements given by Ricciardi, Shannon initially went willingly with the men, but threatened to turn them over to police after they refused to take her home sometime later. Ricciardi said Shannon told them she was on house arrest.

The murder "was in furtherance to protect the freedom of the three men. Common sense tells you it was to protect these three from Shannon reporting them to police," Minett said.




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