Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Defense: Slaying wasn't planned

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Michael Neely was trying to prevent his roommate, William Boyles, from killing Boyles' former girlfriend, their three children and himself the night of March 15, 2002, when he went to the ex-girlfriend's Westwood home, his attorney said Monday.

Neely shot Sara Ridder to death with an assault rifle, but it wasn't something he planned, said attorney Elizabeth Agar. The 28-year-old man wanted to scare Ridder off from testifying in a domestic violence case against Boyles, with whom she'd had a tumultuous six-year relationship, Agar said.

"You won't find (Neely) did it in a purposeful, premeditated act," Agar told the jury Monday during opening statements in the Price Hill man's aggravated murder trial in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

Agar says it was Boyles, 28, who planned Ridder's death.

"He choose an acquaintance, someone not very emotionally stable, someone who is easily manipulated who was very loyal to one of the few friends he had," Agar said.

At the time of Ridder's death, Boyles was awaiting trial on charges of domestic violence and burglary, and he was wearing an electronic monitoring device, said Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Bachman.

Ridder, a police dispatcher and 24-year-old daughter of a former Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police president, was scheduled to testify against Boyles the day she died. Because he has a history of domestic violence, Boyles faced prison time if he was convicted.

Neely is accused of going to Ridder's home, lurking outside her laundry room and shooting her once through a door in the early morning hours. Her children found her dead when they woke up.

Boyles' electronic monitor showed he was nowhere near Ridder the night she died, but he led police to Neely, saying he had often spoken with his roommate about his desire to kill Ridder and thought Neely may have acted out that wish.

Boyles was sentenced in January to 13 years in prison on charges of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated burglary and domestic violence, lesser charges than the conspiracy to commit murder charge initially filed against him.


E-mail scoolidge@enquirer.com

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