After his second trial and conviction in the case, defendant Michael Rimmer was sentenced to death for a third time by a Criminal Court jury for the murder of Ricci Lynn Ellsworth.
Rimmer’s first conviction and two sentencing hearings were overturned on appeal.
Ellsworth, a 45-year-old mother of two, disappeared Feb. 8, 1997, from the Memphis Inn where she was night clerk and auditor. Signs of a violent struggle in the office there included blood spatters and a broken sink.
Rimmer previously had served prison time for raping her, and former inmates testified that he had vowed to kill her when he was released and boasted about it afterwards.
Former homicide investigator Tim Helldorfer testified five times throughout the trial, primarily about taking statements from those inmates and from Rimmer’s brother.
He was arrested about a month later in Indiana, driving a stolen car with blood in the back seat that DNA tests showed was consistent with Ellsworth’s.
The state called 49 witnesses, many of them coming from out of town, said assistant victim/witness director Lyndi Sugg.
The case was handled by special prosecutors Rachel Sobrero and Pam Anderson of Davidson County.
Gen. Weirich recused her office following appellate court rulings.