Ricky Riffe listens to his attorney John Crowley in court this morning.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The trial in the 1985 Maurin kidnap and murder case was pushed out once again as the defense voiced concerns about slowness of information being turned over to him while the prosecutor worries about witnesses who could die before they ever get called to the stand.
Ricky Allen Riffe, 53, appeared in Lewis County Superior Court this morning as attorneys reviewed the status of the case with Judge Richard Brosey.
It was scheduled for the week of Nov. 5.
Seattle-based defense attorney John Crowley said he won’t be prepared by then.
Crowley told the judge he just received a witness statement from Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead; a witness he still needs to interview.
“It was typed August 30, I got it two days ago,” Crowley said.
Crowley noted his client was arraigned in August, but the state just last week collected DNA from his client, which is presumably now being tested at the state crime lab.
He also pointed out the prosecutor turned over 6,000 emails as recently as Tuesday collected from his client’s computer.
“The point is, we can’t be ready, given the rate of production of discovery by the state,” Crowley said.
Ed and Minnie Maurin
Halstead objected to the request for a postponement until March, and being accused of “dribbling” the required documents to the defense.
“This is a case that’s recently re-emerged,” Halstead said. “As you can imagine, people have come forward.”
Halstead said the state has serious concerns about witnesses being available given the case is 27 years old, noting one who had a heart attack last week.
“He’s not the only one who might not be around in six months,” Halstead said.
Riffe, a former Lewis County resident, was a long time suspect but was just arrested in July at his home in Alaska.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has investigated and reinvestigated the case since December 1985 when Ed and Wilhelmina Maurin vanished from their home in Ethel and their bodies turned up days later off a logging road outside Adna.
Prosecutors believe Riffe and his now-deceased brother John Gregory Riffe got into the Maurin’s home, uncovered bank records and forced the couple to go with them to the bank and withdraw $8,500 before shooting them in the backs with a shotgun inside their car, according to charging documents.
Ed Maurin was 81 years old. His wife, who went by Minnie, was 83.
The prosecution has in excess of 100 witnesses, some from out of state. Halstead today said the trial could last as long as four weeks. Last month, he estimated it could take two or possibly three weeks.
Judge Brosey said he would reschedule the trial for the week of Feb. 4 and proposed setting aside the whole month. He wants the attorneys to meet with him again in mid-November to review their progress.
“I don’t think I can be ready,” Crowley told him. “Given the computer and biological evidence floating out there.”
Halstead is preparing to take a formal deposition of one of his witnesses, Donald Burgess of Centralia, just in case his health prevents him from being present at the trial.
The parties will be back in court next Friday morning to address the details of the deposition with the judge.
Riffe is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery, as well as one count of burglary.
He has pleaded not guilty. His attorney continues to claim they got the wrong man.
Today in court he expressed optimism about the results of the DNA tests, which he’s still waiting to see.
“This was a bloody scene,” he said. “Hopefully the perpetrator left behind some evidence.”
For background, read “Maurin homicide: Accused murderer’s lawyer says no new evidence in old case” from Thursday July 26, 2012, here