A jail guard directs accused killer Ricky Riffe to his seat in Lewis County Superior Court.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Ricky Allen Riffe arrived before a full court room gallery today, his gray hair and beard trimmed up for his arraignment in the kidnap and slaying of an elderly Ethel couple.
Riffe, 53, has been held on $5 million bail in the 1985 deaths of Ed and Minnie Maurin. He was just arrested last month in Alaska.
“Not guilty,” Riffe repeated seven times looking toward the Lewis County Superior Court judge who asked for his pleas.
His lawyer, Seattle-based John Crowley, indicated as they began to schedule a trial and other dates, he had yet to receive any police reports from the prosecutor’s office.
Ed and Minnie Maurin
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead stepped up and handed over a portable computer storage device he said contained 12,000 pages of discovery.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has investigated and reinvestigated the case since December 1985 when the Maurins vanished from their home on U.S. Highway 12 and their bodies turned up days later off a logging road outside Adna.
Authorities believe the couple was taken from their house, forced to drive to their bank and withdraw money, before being shot in the backs and dumped.
Riffe and his younger brother who recently died have long been suspects. They moved to Alaska in 1987.
The former heavy equipment operator, through his attorney, denies any involvement.
Five sheriff’s detectives joined three jail guards in the crowded Chehalis courtroom, in part to keep an eye on family members from both sides of the case.
“You know, emotions get going. We don’t want to see anything happen,” sheriff’s detective Sgt. Dusty Breen said.
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.
Numerous aggravating circumstances are alleged including particularly vulnerable victims and deliberate cruelty. Ed Maurin was 81 years old, his wife 83.
Crowley spoke with news reporters after the short hearing and hinted at new evidence that could support his client’s innocence, but said he wasn’t prepared to reveal any details.
“This is an issue that’s developed, it’s quite interesting,” Crowley said.
The lawyer said he was contacted about a week ago by a woman who knows a lot of details about the situation.
“I talked to her for the better part of an hour,” he said. “I talked to Ricky about it, and he started crying.”
The trial was set for the week of Oct. 8. Crowley expressed his doubt he could be prepared that soon, given the thousands of documents involved.
For more background, read:
• “Breaking news: Sheriff: Cold case solved in 1985 shooting death of elderly Ethel couple” from Monday July 9, 2012 at 9:13 a.m., here
• “Sheriff: It’s safe for further witnesses to come forward following arrest in deaths of Ethel couple” from Monday July 9, 2012 at 5:14 p.m., here
• “Maurin homicide: Accused murderer’s lawyer says no new evidence in old case” from Thursday July 26, 2012, here
• “Maurin homicide: “He definitely did not do it” from Tuesday July 31, 2012, here