Mistrial declared at neo-Nazi's murder trial in Phoenix

FILE--This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows Travis Ricci, a neo-Nazi whose murder trial in Phoenix ended with a mistrial on July 11, 2018. Ricci is accused of killing Kelly Ann Jaeger in October, 2009. Authorities say Ricci intended to shoot Jaeger's boyfriend, who is black, but instead fired fatal shotgun blasts at Jaeger, who is white. Ricci has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges. (Arizona Department of Corrections via AP, file).

PHOENIX — A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a neo-Nazi charged with trying to kill a black man and fatally shooting the man's white girlfriend nearly eight years ago after a dispute in a Phoenix park.

Superior Court Judge Dean Fink made the decision Wednesday at the trial of Travis Ricci, who is charged with murder in the October 2009 shooting death of 39-year-old Kelly Ann Jaeger.

The judge declared the mistrial after a witness, in response to a question from a prosecutor, made a reference to Ricci spending time in prison, said Amanda Jacinto, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which prosecuted Ricci.

Authorities say Ricci intended to shoot Jaeger's boyfriend, who is black, but instead fired fatal shotgun blasts at Jaeger, who is white. Ricci is accused of angrily yelling racial slurs at Jaeger's boyfriend and harassing him over dating a white woman in an exchange in a north Phoenix park.

Prosecutors said Ricci left the scene to get a shotgun, returned in a sedan driven by an associate and fired two shots as Jaeger and her boyfriend stood near a pay phone.

Jacinto said it's her understanding that the agency will seek to retry Ricci.

Bruce Blumberg, one of Ricci's attorneys, confirmed that a mistrial had been declared, but declined to make further comments.

Authorities had sought the death penalty, saying Jaeger's killing was meant to further the interests of the Vinlanders Social Club, a neo-Nazi group with a reputation for violence that was later targeted in a law enforcement crackdown. Prosecutors have called the attack a hate crime.

Ricci pleaded not guilty, and his lawyers have raised questions about the ability of Jaeger's boyfriend, Jeffery Wellmaker, to identify him as the triggerman. They note that nearly two years after the attack, Wellmaker was jailed in an unrelated case and played chess with Ricci behind bars without recognizing him.

Aaron Levi Schmidt, who authorities say was driving a car used in the shooting, pleaded guilty to murder in Jaeger's death.

Lawyers for Ricci and Schmidt, both now 36, have said their clients weren't members of the Vinlanders.


Follow Jacques Billeaud at twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud. His work can be found at https://bit.ly/2GGWEPO.

Must Read

Hit maker Timbaland producing music for fitness...

Aug 10, 2016

Hit-making producer Timbaland is used to people dancing to his beats at nightclubs, and now fans...

Experts: 2 killings by police were tragic, likely...

Aug 11, 2016

Two fatal police shootings in the Los Angeles area began the same way: officers thinking a suspect...

Prince Fielder emotional as he ends career after...

Aug 11, 2016

Prince Fielder says it will be tough not be able to play again after having to walk away from the...

Source: Boy was decapitated on waterslide at...

Aug 11, 2016

The 10-year-old boy killed during a ride on the world's tallest waterslide was decapitated, a...

WHY IT MATTERS: All will be touched by choice in...

Aug 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump offer voters distinct choices this fall on issues that shape...

Sign up now!

About Us

In The Headline sought to bring professionalism back into journalism, bringing you only the most exclusive and the most impactive news from all over the globe.

Contact us: sales[at]intheheadline.com