By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – All for a lousy $8,500, the judge said.
An elderly couple taken from their home, probably at gunpoint, and then made to withdraw cash from their bank before getting shot in their backs and tossed in the brush like garbage.
“There is no justification, mitigation or excuse for that type of conduct,” Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey pronounced to the courtroom this afternoon.
And then he sentenced Ricky A. Riffe to just shy of 103 years in prison.
Riffe, 55, unshaven and outfitted in red jail garb and shackles, didn’t appear to change his expression as Brosey gave him everything prosecutors asked for. And they had asked for the everything they could.
Today’s hearing in a fairly packed courtroom ends a trial that came nearly three decades after Ed and Minnie Maurin were found dead on a logging road outside Adna days after vanishing from their Ethel farmhouse.
Brosey acknowledged that if the defendant’s younger brother were still alive, he would likely be facing the same fate. Brosey alluded to the belief of some that the former Mossyrock men were not the only people involved in a crime that shook the community in December 1985.
The judge called it commendable the old case was brought to trial, and commendable the tenacity shown in pursuing it by Minnie Maurin’s now-87-year-old son, Denny Hadaller.
Hadaller and his sister both addressed the court today.
The retired logging contractor and former county commissioner told the judge it will soon be 28 Christmases his family has had to live with what happened and it may take generations for the healing.
“The safety and trust of the family and Lewis County citizens was violated,” Hadaller said.
The Mayfield Lake area resident wondered aloud how anyone could be so cruel, act with such malice, killing and leaving the bodies in the forest to the elements and wild animals.
“I also miss visiting with my mother and my step dad,” he said. “All the great grandchildren were not able to know them.”
Ed Maurin was 81, his wife Minnie was 83 years old when their lives ended.
Hadaller’s sister Hazel Oberg’s hand shook as she followed the words she read from a yellow legal pad.
Oberg spoke of finding a job at a cannery when she was just in the eighth grade, and continuing to work ever since. There were jobs to be had back in the mid-1980s, she said.
“It has been very difficult to understand why anyone would take another’s life to get their money,” Oberg said.
Actually, the first to address the court was Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer.
Meyer said there is not a sentence long enough to request for what was the most heinous crime he has seen in his career.
“I can’t emphasize enough how much the defendant has earned the sentence the state is recommending,” he said.
When it came time for Riffe’s defense attorney John Crowley to appeal to the judge, he instead said his client directed him to read his prepared statement.
He has no remorse for anything he did not do, Crowley said.
Riffe believes the Maurin’s lives were stolen from them, as has been his by virtue of this trial, Crowley continued.
“That’s why he makes no apologies whatsoever,” Crowley said.
Crowley repeated what his own thoughts were after the jury returned guilty verdicts in mid-November, following a six week trial.
“Mr. Riffe does not understand how the witnesses can look themselves in the face,” he said.
He contended that no fewer than 10 of them of them testified to something different than what they told investigators in the beginning.
His client expects to be back in the courtroom again within 18 months, Crowley said.
Riffe, when asked by the judge if he had anything to say, replied simply no.
When asked if he had any questions about his rights of appeal, said “No sir.”
As he was escorted away, two spectators called out, “Burn in hell.” A brief round of applause broke out.
Riffe, a resident of King Salmon, Alaska since the late 1980s, who was arrested in July of last year, was sentenced for seven felonies, from murder and robbery, to kidnapping and burglary. All were first degree. There were also special verdicts finding aggravating factors allowing for exceptional sentencing.
He had been charged as the principal player or as an accomplice, and only the jury knows exactly what it believed occurred and what Riffe’s role was. The only eye witness was one individual who briefly saw Ricky and John Gregory Riffe inside the Maurin’s Chrysler Newport with the couple on U.S. Highway 12.
Each count of first-degree murder, from the statutes in 1985, had a standard sentencing range of 240 months to 320 months. The other offenses came with long but somewhat shorter terms.
Meyer had asked for the top of the standard range for each of them, and asked for them to be served consecutive to each other. Judge Brosey agreed. They added up to 1,234 months.
Brosey also agreed to numerous fines and fees, and a date in the future to discuss restitution such as the $8,500 and burial expenses. Riffe, through his lawyer, said he wouldn’t attend.
His former step-daughter also spoke to the court briefly, directing her comments to the man who married to her mother the same year as the slayings.
Shelly Lev said she wished he’d be man enough to say what he and his brother did to this family.
“Because you know you did it,” she said.
Riffe still faces a trial scheduled for this coming February, based on charges filed earlier this year that he raped and molested his then-9-year-old step-daughter in the mid-1980s.