Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, November 27, 2019


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Habeas Corpus Relief Improper Based On Rejection of Governor’s Decision

Opinion Says There Is ‘Some Evidence’ in Support of 2018 Decision by Brown To Block Parole of Woman Dubbed in 1987 the ‘Fatal Attraction Killer’


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Div. One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal has reversed an order granting habeas corpus relief to a woman who was dubbed by the press in 1987 as the “Fatal Attraction Killer,” disagreeing with a judge that then-Gov. Jerry Brown lacked an adequate basis for countermanding the Board of Parole Hearings’s decision to release her.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Harry M. Elias, in granting the writ sought by Linda Ricchio, declared that Brown had acted “based on guesses and irrational speculation rather than rational inferences based on the facts presented.” Elias—who was appointed to the San Diego Municipal Court in 1991 and became a Superior Court judge through unification in 1998—had used that same phrase in granting habeas relief to another slayer, David Durant.

The Court of Appeal reversed Elias’s determination as to Durant on May 26, 2015, in an opinion by Presiding Justice Judith McConnell that was not certified for publication. Reversal in Ricchio’s case came Monday, also in an unpublished opinion, by Justice Joan K. Irion.

‘Some Evidence’

Irion said the test is whether there is “some evidence” supporting the governor’s decision. There is, she declared, requiring reversal of Elias’s order.

The jurist noted the varying versions of the facts Ricchio has presented at her various parole hearings concerning her fatal shooting of her ex-boyfriend. She quoted Brown as saying in his decision last year:

“I am concerned that Ms. Ricchio still does not fully apprehend the gravity of her actions and has yet to acknowledge the true nature of her crime. She must do much more to show that she has an adequate understanding of how she came to commit such a manipulative and callous crime.”

His assessment was that Ricchio “currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.”

 Irion wrote:

“Based our independent review of the entire record, we hold that the Governor properly made an individualized inquiry into Ricchio’s suitability for parole by applying the relevant statutory factors and that some evidence supports his conclusion that Ricchio poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.”

 It was on Dec. 14, 1987, that Ricchio fatally shot her ex-boyfriend, Ron Ruse, whom she stalked after he broke off their relationship, harassing him and his new girlfriend. Twenty-six days earlier, Paramount Pictures released its psychological thriller “Fatal Attraction” which was to become a box office hit.

Ricchio was likened to a character in the movie, portrayed by Glenn Close, who was obsessed with a man who spurned her affections. She was referred to in news accounts as the “Fatal Attraction Killer”—as was a woman in New York, Carolyn Warmus, who in 1989 killed the wife of a man with whom she had a sexual relationship.

Warmus was paroled on June 17.

Ricchio in March forewent a scheduled parole hearing, with a vague explanation by her lawyer that legal proceedings—apparently her appeal to the Court of Appeal—were pending. 

The case is In re Ricchio, D075197.


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