Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Exam delays murder trial

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - Rhonda Ricketts, the Warren County woman who is accused of shooting her ex-husband after an alleged longtime abusive marriage, may not be competent to stand trial.

The aggravated murder case against Ricketts, 50, is on hold until Common Pleas Judge Neal B. Bronson decides the competency issue, one of her lawyers, Jon Paul Rion, said Monday.

Ricketts' competency is in question after a Dayton, Ohio, psychiatrist evaluated her at the request of her lawyers. Psychiatrist Douglas Mossman reports Ricketts appeared to be suffering from severe depression with "psychotic features."

Further, her psychiatric problems are impairing her ability to assist in her own defense, Mossman said, adding that his findings, if Bronson accepts them, would provide grounds for Ricketts to be declared incompetent to stand trial.

Rion said he thinks Ricketts could be restored to competency with medication and psychotherapy.

Another mental health examination, done at prosecutors' request, is scheduled for Thursday in the Warren County Jail, where Ricketts has been held since her arrest in the May 13 death of Steve Ricketts, 45.

He died from a gunshot wound to the back while lying in bed at his Silverwood Farms Drive Home. In an emotional 911 call, Rhonda Ricketts said she shot her ex-husband after the last in a series of beatings.

When Mossman visited with Ricketts last month, he said she reported she was experiencing hallucinations and described symptoms associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.


E-mail jmorse@enquirer.com

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