Judge Rules Against Ricci's Widow

Judge Rules Against Ricci's Widow

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A federal judge has ruled against the widow of a man wrongly suspected in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart granted summary judgment Wednesday to the city, which was sued by Angela Ricci over treatment of her husband. Richard Ricci suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage while being held in prison.

The judge ruled that plaintiff had failed to provide evidence implicating the city in the treatment Ricci received in prison.

"I was appalled," Angela Ricci said in a statement after the ruling. "The judge made up his mind before hearing our side of the case.... Richard lost his life in prison because the Salt Lake City police decided he was guilty based on no evidence whatsoever."

She said the ruling would be appealed.

"I'm sure they can go ahead and appeal, but the judge's ruling was well thought-out and well supported," said Morris O. Haggerty, the city's lead attorney in the case.

Angela Ricci also had sued the state, contending her husband had a history of hypertension when imprisoned and should have been on medication during his last confinement. The Utah Department of Corrections paid her $150,000 without admitting wrongdoing, saying it was cheaper than fighting her lawsuit.

Ricci had worked odd jobs at the Smart house.

He was arrested on a parole violation nine days after Elizabeth was kidnapped from her bedroom in June 2002 and he was returned to prison. He also was facing state charges that he burglarized the Smart home and another in the neighborhood and federal charges of bank robbery.

Ricci confessed to stealing jewelry and other items from the family, but denied having anything to do with the kidnapping. He insisted he was at home asleep at the time of the kidnapping.

On March 12, 2003, Elizabeth Smart was found walking along a suburban street with self-styled prophet Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee, who were both charged in the abduction. Barzee was found incompetent to stand trial and Mitchell's mental competence is at issue.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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