Michael Rimmer was sentenced to death by the State of Tennessee for the murder of a woman. According to court documents Ricci Ellsworth would disappear after she left work and her ex boyfriend Michael Rimmer would be arrested for her murder. Ricci Ellsworth has never been found. Michael Rimmer would be convicted and sentenced to death
Michael Rimmer 2021 Information
Michael Rimmer More News
A jury again sentenced Michael Rimmer to death Saturday in the killing of his former girlfriend who disappeared 19 years ago from her job as a night clerk at a Memphis motel.
Rimmer, 50, was sentenced to death in 1998 and at a resentencing in 2004 in the killing of 45-year-old Ricci Ellsworth. A new trial was ordered in 2012 after a judge found Rimmer’s defense counsel failed to effectively investigate the capital case.
Shelby County Criminal Court Judge James Beasley Jr. found the Shelby County prosecutor who handled the case, Thomas Henderson, “purposefully misled” Rimmer’s defense counsel about evidence.
Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich announced in 2014 she would ask for the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle the trial. Rachel Sobrero of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, and Pam Anderson, of Davidson County, prosecuted the retrial.
Jurors on Friday convicted Rimmer of killing Ellsworth with premeditation and in perpetration of a robbery. He was also convicted of aggravated robbery.
Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft told Rimmer he will be confined until all appeals have been exhausted and an execution date is set. He will be put to death by electrocution, or at his option, lethal injection, Craft said.
“May God have mercy on your soul,” Craft said.
Ellsworth, a mother of two, disappeared Feb. 8, 1997, from the Memphis Inn near Interstate 40 and Sycamore View leaving behind her blood and her ring. Her body has never been found.
“I wish I could tell you how much I loved her, still love her,” her now deceased mother, Margie Floyd, testified previously. “And the horror that — she was such a sweet, generous person — that anyone would hate her that much. It had to be hate.”
Rimmer asked his attorneys, Robert Parris and Paul Bruno, not to present any mitigating evidence on his behalf during the sentencing proceedings Saturday.
Sobrero told the jury about aggravating factors in the case, including that Rimmer was previously convicted of one or more violent felonies, not including the present charge.
Rimmer was convicted of raping Ellsworth in 1989. She forgave him and visited him in prison.
Before sentencing, testimony of the victim’s mother was read to the jury.
“Well, I was not only her mother,” Floyd said in the transcript. “I was her friend. And there’s no way that I can tell you all how I miss her. Not knowing how she died, how afraid she was, it’s been horrible. I’ll never get over it. We will never get over it.”
Rimmer had pleaded not guilty to killing Ellsworth, and Parris urged the jury to consider elements of the case that were missing. There was no body, murder weapon or identification of Rimmer at the scene by anyone, Parris said. Prosecutors presented evidence that DNA profiles from blood at the crime scene matched blood found in a car Rimmer was arrested in for speeding nearly a month after Ellsworth’s disappearance.
Witnesses Roger Lescure and William Conaley testified Rimmer had threatened to kill Ellsworth.
Rimmer’s attorneys emphasized the eyewitness identification of a man who saw two people at the motel around the time of Ellsworth’s disappearance with what appeared to be blood on their hands.
James Darnell picked out Billy Wayne Voyles Jr. from a photo spread, according to a police document. The document was not disclosed for Rimmer’s 1998 death penalty trial or his resentencing in 2004.
Rimmer’s 1998 counsel asked for exculpatory evidence from the prosecutor handling the case at the time, who responded the state was not aware of any.
Voyles was also picked out of a sketch released to the media.
Rimmer will get an automatic appeal to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. If that court affirms the conviction and sentence, the Tennessee Supreme Court automatically reviews it.
Tennessee has executed six people since 1976, and the last execution was in 2009.
Five were executed by lethal injection, and in 2007 the state electrocuted convicted killer Daryl Holton. Holton chose the method.