Ricciardi deemed competent

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Can now be tried for 2014 murder

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer

David Ricciardi has been found mentally competent to stand trial, and will go before a judge on June 18 for the Feb. 20, 2014 murder of Smithfield resident Naira Davis. 

A mental evaluation was ordered by the commonwealth and, once received on May 1, was presented to Judge Robert H. Sandwich Jr., according to Isle of Wight County Commonwealth’s Attorney Georgette Phillips. 

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Ricciardi, 54, was charged with first degree murder of Davis, who was 73 at the time of her death. Her body was found at Ricciardi’s mother’s house in the Smithfield Forest neighborhood in 2014. At the time, Ricciardi had been living with his mother, Mary McPartlan, who was often visited by Davis. He is alleged to have beaten Davis to death with a wooden baseball bat. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

McPartlan died in 2017. 

According to a report filed with the court from Central State Hospital, Ricciardi was diagnosed with chronic undifferentiated schizophrenia several years ago.

The June 18 trial will be a bench trial as opposed to a jury trial, said Phillips. Bench trials occur without a jury, with the presiding judge making the final ruling. Phillips said that neither party requested a jury trial. 

Proving mental competency to testify versus proving that the crime itself was a result of mental illness were separate matters with very different standards, according to Phillips. 

Phillips said that for a long period of time, Ricciardi was found not competent to stand trial, and that even when he was, he would have relapses and have to be reevaluated. She added that this last evaluation was a result of Ricciardi’s attorneys pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. 

According to a psychological evaluation submitted to the Isle of Wight General District Court in 2014, Ricciardi saw Davis as part of a racial conspiracy and spying network and thought it was illegal to prosecute him for the crime of murdering a black woman. At the time, the evaluation said that Ricciardi was “patently psychotic.”

If the court rules that Ricciardi is not guilty by reason of insanity, Phillips said he will be committed to a secure mental institution such as Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County or Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg. 

Phillips said that there is no way to get to trial unless Ricciardi is found competent to stand trial, and that just because he was found competent to stand trial doesn’t mean that he doesn’t suffer from mental illness. She added that restorative practices were applied that basically taught Ricciardi about the court process and what all of the parties do, and that the goal of that was for him to be able to help his defense. She added that for a while, Ricciardi didn’t have basic knowledge because of the severity of his mental condition.

Ricciardi is being represented in court by associates of the Franklin Public Defenders Office — Antoinette Bacon and Peter Economou. 

Phillips said that much of the evidence between parties will be stipulated — meaning that the defense and the prosecution will have come to an agreement before the trial on particular details of the case, such as Davis’ physical cause of death. 

Bacon, on the other hand, did not want to comment on the topic of stipulation before the June 18 trial.  {/mprestriction}