After mistrial, D.C. prosecutors plan to retry murder case

Prosecutors say they will retry the case of a Northeast Washington man charged with the 2008 fatal stabbing of his girlfriend. A judge had declared a mistrial last week after a jury said it could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Prosecutors initially charged Roderick Ridley, 34, with 30 counts associated with the Nov. 21, 2008, murder of his former girlfriend, Tiffany Gates, 33, in her Southeast Washington apartment. After a week-long trial and five days of deliberations, the jury found Ridley guilty of first-degree burglary and carrying a dangerous weapon, eight counts of obstruction of justice, six counts of contempt and 10 counts of felony threats.

But the jury of four men and eight women was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on murder charges, including first-degree murder. Ridley is scheduled to be sentenced on the lesser charges July 28.

No date has been set for the second murder trial.

Authorities said Ridley, who had escaped from a halfway house to which he was sent after setting fire to the apartment where he and Gates lived, kicked in the door to Gates’s apartment and stabbed her several times. Police said they found Ridley minutes later, covered in blood and hiding under a sink in a vacant apartment.

During the trial, Ridley’s attorney, Cary Clennon, said there was no DNA linking his client to Gates’s murder. His fingerprints were not found on the knife, and Gates’s fingernails were not tested for DNA. Gates’s DNA was found on Ridley’s sweat shirt at the time of his arrest, but that of another, unknown person also was found on the shirt.

Prosecutors played several of more than 400 threatening jailhouse calls Ridley made to Gates.

Prosecutors said the killing was a classic case of domestic violence, but at least one juror was not convinced that no one else was in the apartment when Gates was killed.

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of intern Chandra Levy.
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