LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) - A western Missouri couple already convicted in the sex-torture killing of one woman pleaded guilty Tuesday in a different county to murdering a second victim.
Richard D. Davis and Dena D. Riley, of Independence, avoided a capital murder trial by pleading guilty to first-degree murder in the April 2006 killing of Michelle Huff-Ricci, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/PpWfgb).
Authorities found the 36-year-old woman's charred remains in a wooded area of Clay County while investigating the May 2006 torture, rape and suffocation of 41-year-old Marsha Spicer in the couple's Independence apartment. The apartment also held videotapes of both women being raped and sexually tortured.
Spicer's nude body was found by a fisherman in a shallow grave in Lafayette County.
Davis was sentenced to death in Jackson County Circuit Court following his August 2008 conviction for Spicer's suffocation death and the kidnapping, rape and torture of Huff-Ricci. Riley was sentenced to nine life sentences after pleading guilty in Jackson County to the torture of both women and to Spicer's murder.
Riley was also given a life sentence in federal court in Kansas for kidnapping a 5-year-old southeastern Kansas girl during the eight days she and Davis were on the run before their capture in southwestern Missouri. Authorities said the child had injuries consistent with sexual abuse.
Prosecutors have said Riley and Davis videotaped themselves assaulting the two women to fulfill Davis' violent sexual fantasies. His criminal history includes a 1987 rape for which he spent nearly 18 years in prison.
According to Clay County prosecutor Dan White, after Davis and Riley raped and tortured Huff-Ricci, they devised a plan to kill her because she knew where they lived and they feared she would contact police about what they had done to her.
Investigators said Davis kept Huff-Ricci drugged while they decided what to do. They put Huff-Ricci into their car and drove her to a wooded area where Davis got out of the vehicle with Huff-Ricci and told Riley to drive away.
Davis tried unsuccessfully to strangle Huff-Ricci with a rope, then covered her mouth and nose to suffocate her, according to court records. The next day, Davis and Riley returned to the wooded area where they had left Huff-Ricci's nude body. Authorities said they doused her with lighter fluid and covered her with brush and ignited it.