Man found not guilty by reason of insanity

Published 5:31 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A Smithfield man accused of one of Smithfield’s most shocking murders in recent memory was found not guilty by reason of insanity last year and has been committed to the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

David Ricciardi, 57, was found mentally competent to stand trial in May 2019 after having been declared incompetent and undergoing treatment to restore his competency.

He was charged in the Feb. 20, 2014, murder of Smithfield resident Naira Davis, who came to visit his invalid mother, Mary McPartlan, weekly.

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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.”

Commonwealth’s Attorney Georgette Phillips said the parties stipulated to many of the facts in the case, meaning the prosecution and defense agreed on much of the evidence about the crime itself.

“There was no question, no dispute about the evidence itself, that he did in fact kill Ms. Davis,” Phillips said. “The argument was over whether or not he was not guilty by reason of insanity.”

However, there was really not much disagreement, Phillips said, since even the commonwealth’s own doctor — as well as those testifying for the defense — agreed Ricciardi had been insane at the time of the offense.

“With all of the doctors’ documentation, it was somewhat very clear that there is a significant mental health issue as to his belief and his reason for doing this,” Phillips said.

His trial was on Sept. 29, 2020.

Proving mental competency to testify versus proving that the crime itself was a result of mental illness are separate matters with very different standards. In order to make him competent to stand trial, 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.

Ricciardi’s next court appearance is Jan. 5, 2022, and his mental status will be reviewed annually, Phillips said.

“It’s tragic that Ms. Davis was just trying to help her friend, and her son found her to be a threat and ended her life,” Phillips said. “There was no conspiracy against him and his mother, but in his mind.”