Crime & Justice News- October 17, 2020

Another cold case solved, step-brother of Kimberly Ratliff charged. Second suspect arrested for the murder of Ft. Bliss solider. Scott Peterson won’t go away.

Homicide

Second suspect arrested in murder of Fort Bliss soldier (KTSM)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso Police have arrested a second suspect, the alleged girlfriend, in connection to the fatal car crash that killed a Fort Bliss soldier on Sunday.

Clevy Muchette Nelson-Royster, 27, was arrested on Thursday night for her alleged participation in the murder of 27-year-old Capt. Malcolm Xavier Perry.

Perry, a Fort Bliss soldier, was killed early Sunday morning when the car he was driving was rammed, causing the car to flip and catch fire.

Richard Mustapha Sennessie, 23, has been charged in Perry’s murder.

According to the El Paso Police Department, Sennessie intentionally caused the deadly crash by ramming a Jeep Wrangler that he was driving into an Audi that Perry was driving.

Court documents state that Perry called 911 at 5:46 a.m. Sunday morning, just before the crash, and said he was being chased by a black Jeep.

Perry told the dispatch that the driver was ramming into his vehicle and said, “I am going to die.” Moments later, dispatch heard a loud crash and Perry yelling for help, according to the documents.‘I am going to die’: Court docs shed light on events leading to fatal crash that killed Fort Bliss soldier 

Nelson-Royster was the passenger and owner of the Jeep Cherokee that rammed into Perry’s car, resulting in Perry’s death.

Nelson-Royster was booked into the El Paso County Detention Facility. She is being held on a $500,000 bond.


Scott Peterson’s Murder Convictions to Be Re-examined, Court Orders (NY Times)

The move comes two months after the California Supreme Court overturned a sentence of death for his 2004 convictions.

The case will return to the San Mateo County Superior Court to determine if Scott Peterson, who was convicted of first-degree and second-degree murder, should be given a new trial.
Credit photo by Al Golub

By Derrick Bryson Taylor

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a review of Scott Peterson’s convictions for murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, because a juror in the 2004 trial failed to disclose that she was involved in certain legal proceedings.

The court ordered the state to show why Mr. Peterson’s murder convictions should not be overturned on the grounds that the juror, No. 7, “committed prejudicial misconduct by not disclosing her prior involvement with other legal proceedings, including but not limited to being the victim of a crime.”

The case will return to the San Mateo County Superior Court to determine if Mr. Peterson should be given a new trial.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the juror had not shared that she was granted a restraining order in 2000 against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend for harassing her when she was pregnant.

Mr. Peterson’s lawyer, Cliff Gardner, said in a statement that he was pleased with the court’s decision.

“We agree not only with the court’s apparent concern about juror candor during the jury selection process, but with its recognition about how central the misconduct was to the ability of the jury to reach a fair decision in this case,” he said.

The case and trial, which drew widespread media coverage and spawned at least one made-for-TV movie, returned to the spotlight in August when the California Supreme Court overturned Mr. Peterson’s death sentence. At the time, the court upheld Mr. Peterson’s convictions, but said that the trial judge had made mistakes that hindered his right to an impartial jury during sentencing.

“We reject Peterson’s claim that he received an unfair trial as to guilt and thus affirm his convictions for murder,” the court said. “But before the trial began, the trial court made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection.”

The court said prosecutors could again seek the death penalty for Mr. Peterson at a new hearing.

Laci Peterson, a 27-year-old substitute teacher who was eight months pregnant, was reported missing on Christmas Eve 2002 from the home she and Mr. Peterson shared in Modesto, Calif.

In April 2003, her body was found in San Francisco Bay, close to where Mr. Peterson, then 30, had told the police he had gone fishing the day she went missing.

Mr. Peterson was arrested not long after.


COLD CASE ARREST: Stepbrother accused in horrific 1999 murder of 22-year-old Kimberly Ratliff (KETV)

Council Bluffs police have requested and were granted an arrest warrant in a 1999 cold case murder.

On the morning of Jan. 12, 1999, Kimberly Ratliff’s deceased body was discovered inside her vehicle, which had been abandoned in the 1400 block of West Broadway. Ratliff was 22 at the time of her death. Kimberly’s stepbrother, Matt W. Kennedy, has been accused of first-degree murder.

Kennedy is now a 52-year-old resident of Fairfield, Montana, but he was living in Council Bluffs at the time of the murder.

Kennedy was taken into custody and is being held in the Teton County Jail, pending extradition to Iowa.

Police say no further information will be released regarding Kennedy’s arrest until he is back in Iowa and the arrest warrant can be formally served to him.

Police say Ratliff was found mutilated and her throat slit so severely, she was nearly decapitated. Authorities determined she was likely killed elsewhere because there was little blood in her car.

Her clothes had also been changed.

Ratliff, who worked at Airlite Plastics Co. in Omaha, was last seen alive when she got off work just before midnight on Jan. 8.

One year after the murder, police told KETV they had a suspect, but not enough information to make an arrest.

Ratliff’s parents, Joyce and Leslie “Les” Kennedy, said they were frustrated that no arrest had been made.

“I think about her every day, I think about her every night,” Joyce said.

“There is sufficient information, in my particular opinion, if it was laid before the grand jury, multiple indictments would be coming down,” Les said. “Against a killer and conspirators.”

Detective Dean Sharp, Council Bluffs Police Department, explained why he was hesitant to make an arrest.

“I personally don’t want to make an arrest unless I can make a conviction,” he said.

Joyce said she feared, “they’re letting this murderer go by so he can do it again.”

Les said he is confident an arrest will eventually come.

“This individual is not going to get away with what he’s done. Justice is going to be served,” he said.

According to the Des Moines Register, Les and Joyce Kennedy claimed that Kim had been hanging out with drug users and dealers. However, Ratliff’s biological father, Jacque Ratliff, said that Les Kennedy was possessive and responsible for Kim’s drug abuse.

This is a developing story, stay with KETV for more.


Father wants stiffer sentence for woman connected to daughter’s rape, murder (FOX 13 Tampa Bay)

TAMPA, Fla. – Eboni Wiley and Granville Ritchie had known each other for only three days when Wiley decided to leave 9-year-old Felecia Williams in his care while she went out to buy drugs.

Ritchie would end up raping and killing Felecia, and Wiley helped cover it up. She admitted as much during Ritchie’s trial.

“Yes, I told a lot of stories. Yeah, I lied. Yes, I can admit that. Yes, I did lie. Yes, I was on drugs,” Wiley said repeatedly. 

Wiley was the state’s star witness who could point the finger directly at Ritchie for the murder. Ritchie was convicted and now sits on death row.

Wiley was only charged with lying to law enforcement. 

Now FOX 13 has learned she has been offered a sweetheart deal by the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office. Felecia’s father, Jerome Williams, is outraged.

“For them to come to us with a six-month plea deal, c’mon man. My daughter’s gone and she ain’t never coming back,” said a frustrated Williams. 

Williams says six months in the county jail is slap on the wrist. He says Wiley played a major role in his daughter’s murder.

“You intentionally lied to law enforcement to divert them from discovering what this man had done. And then, to add insult to injury, she don’t want the six months? All she agreed to is probation. Man, my child is gone due to your actions,” continued Williams. 

Williams says the lead prosecutor in the case, Scott Harmon, let him down.

“And then for Mr. Harmon to even come to us with that, I feel like that’s disrespectful. Mr. Harmon is tenacious, he’s like a pit bull that smells blood. Fight for my child the same way you would fight for your child. Don’t look at her as no case number,” pleaded Williams. 

The Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office disputed Williams’ assessment of the deal.

“Our prosecutors have worked tirelessly for justice for little Felecia, delivering a conviction and death sentence for her murderer. We will continue to work to hold all defendants accountable, within the limits of what the evidence proves and the law allows,” a spokesperson offered.

Despite the family’s objections, Wiley is expected to take the deal tomorrow and be formally sentenced in December. 


Rape & Sexual Assault

Minister sentenced to 220 years for child rape could soon be out on parole (WCMH)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Ohio Parole Board is hearing a petition this week that could set a convicted child rapist free. But a man who helped send William Wasmus to prison is trying to convince the Parole Board that he needs to stay behind bars.

William Wasmus was a Grove City evangelical minister who conducted services on Public Access Television back in 1994.

“He referred to himself as God’s prophet in the land of the last days,” says former church member Dave Wexler. “His ministry was a miracle healing ministry.”

But Wexler later discovered Wasmus was using his ministry to connect with children who he molested and even raped.

Wexler and his wife first saw Bill Wasmus on television and started attending services at his church. Wexler says sometime later the minister claimed to have a prophesy that Wexler’s wife should leave him. She did and after the Wexler’s divorced she married Rev. Wasmus.

A few years later, as Wexler was dropping his children off at his ex-wife’s house when she asked him for a favor.

“My ex-wife came out and she asked me if I could help get into Billy’s secret briefcase,” Wexler said. “His briefcase of mysteries and secrets that he never wanted anyone to touch or look at.”

A woman from the church and her son were also at the Wasmus’ home when Wexler pulled the briefcase open. Inside, they found pornographic pictures and videotapes of children.

“Popped in that videotape and there he was with that boy, and at that point pandemonium broke loose,” Wexler said.

Wexler says Wasmus was raping the boy on the tape, and there was video evidence that other children had been abused.

Wexler turned the tapes over to Franklin County deputies who discovered evidence that Wasmus had been sexually abusing and videotaping children for more than five years. Wasmus was sentenced to up to 220 years in prison, but he will have a second parole hearing October 14, 2020.

“Five years ago, this four-member parole board was split 50/50 on whether or not to release [him],” Wexler said. “It was close and I think he is likely to be released if we don’t overwhelmingly protest this.”

He is asking people to email the Parole Board to oppose release for Wasmus.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien says his office already contacted the Parole Board opposing parole.

“Someone may step back and say, ‘Well that’s a long time ago and perhaps he has reformed,’” O’Brien said. “But particularly involving minors with pedophiles, it’s a concern that the experts tell us there’s really no cure, and all you can do is prevent their access to children.”

The parole board can be reached via email or by clicking here.


Sacramento County jury convicts men of raping three intoxicated teenagers, DA says

A Sacramento County jury has convicted two men who raped three intoxicated teenage girls, recording some of the sexual assaults and posting them on a social media site, prosecutors said.

The jurors on Tuesday found Ricky Gonzalez, 29, and Corey Robertson, 30, guilty of three counts of rape of an intoxicated victim and one count of rape of an unconscious victim, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. said in a news release Friday. Gonzalez also was convicted of one count of oral copulation of an intoxicated victim.

Prosecutors said the defendants drove the victims from the mall to Robertson’s Antelope apartment, where the men gave alcohol to the three underage victims and drank with them. The girls became extremely drunk, experiencing altered levels of consciousness.

Gonzalez and Robertson sexually assaulted the three girls, who were unable to resist, according to the District Attorney’s Office. The prosecutors said the defendants recorded portions of the sexual assaults without the girls’ consent or knowledge.

One of the girls was hospitalized later that day for alcohol intoxication. Prosecutors said she had a blood alcohol level of .23, that’s nearly three times the legal limit for an adult.

Gonzalez faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, prosecutors said, and Robertson faces a maximum 32-year prison sentence. They both remained in custody at the Sacramento County Jail Friday afternoon.

Gonzalez and Robertson are scheduled to return to court Oct. 29 to be sentenced by Sacramento Superior Court Judge David De Alba. Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Steffens prosecuted the case.


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