Roosevelt Ratliff, a former official of a national education organization, was convicted by a Fairfax County jury yesterday of fatally shooting an acquaintance outside a food shop in the Franconia area last spring.
Ratliff, 39, had been an associate director of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, an Alexandria-based group representing primary, secondary and higher education administrators and supervisors. Officials said he resigned May 3, the day on which the incident occurred.
Ratliff was found guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting of Kenneth H. Wise, 39, an off-duty Metrobus driver. The Fairfax Circuit Court jury recommended that Ratliff be sentenced to a 15-year prison term on the murder charge and urged an additional one-year sentence on a separate charge of using a firearm in the killing.
Judge JoAnna L. Fitzpatrick said she would sentence Ratliff Nov. 19 after she has received a presentencing report from probation officials. Under Virginia law, a judge may not impose a more severe sentence than a jury recommends but may impose a more lenient one. Marvin D. Miller, one of Ratliff's attorneys, said he is considering appealing the verdict to the Virginia Supreme Court.
Ratliff's lawyers had asked the jury to find him innocent by reason of insanity. A psychiatrist and a psychologist, who testified for the defense, described Ratliff as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Ratliff's attorneys argued that he had delusions and falsely believed Wise was having an affair with his wife. Ratliff also had delusions, his lawyers contended, that Wise had threatened his wife and him.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Thomas E. Gallahue asked for a guilty verdict, arguing that Ratliff's actions did not stem from a mental disease. He produced evidence to show that Ratliff appeared calm before and after the shooting. After attacking Wise, Ratliff returned home to dictate a letter of resignation from his job and then phone police, Gallahue noted.
Wise, of 6349 Hillary Ct., Fairfax, was shot as he left a 7-Eleven store at 7214 Beulah St., carrying a bag of groceries. Ratliff, of 6355 Staghorn Ct., Fairfax, was convicted of firing three shots from a .38-caliber revolver that struck Wise in the side, back and right arm.
The jury deliberated for more than 10 hours Thursday and yesterday before announcing its verdict.