USA Today again is delving into alleged prosecutorial misconduct, this time looking at the case of Memphis’ Ricci Ellsworth, who supposedly was killed by her boyfriend, Michael Rimmer, in 1997. Jurors never learned — and what Rimmer’s attorneys say they were never told — was that a witness saw a different man in the motel office where Ellsworth worked about the time she disappeared. That man was wanted in connection with a stabbing and, the witness said, literally had blood on his hands.
Attorneys for Rimmer, who was sentenced to death, are pursuing an extraordinary strategy. They want a Tennessee appeals court to find that misconduct by prosecutors and police was so pervasive that the entire Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office should be disqualified from the case, and that a new prosecutor should be brought in to review the evidence. Shelby County prosecutors have sent three times as many people to death row as prosecutors in any other county in the state. A judge in Rimmer’s case has found that the lead detective ‘provided false testimony” that may have misled jurors — a ruling that raises new questions about the conduct of prosecutors in one of the nation’s most violent big cities.