Investigators detail case against man accused of killing parents - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Investigators detail case against man accused of killing parents

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MURPHYSBORO, Ill. -- Testimony begins in the trial of a man accused of murdering his parents in the home they shared in Murphysboro.

Prosecutors believe Keith Ritcheson killed Brenda and Burl Ritcheson in August 2017.

Testimony started with the 911 call Keith Ritcheson made at 12:24 a.m. Aug. 14, 2017.

The 911 supervisor for Jackson County said he sounded calm, something deputies who responded to the scene also noticed.

Ritcheson said his father had some "business enemies" who may have wanted to see him dead.

"Somebody was watching this place when I left," Ritcheson told the dispatcher.

Ritcheson said he left to go to the convenience store, only to find his parents 20 minutes later, dead in their bedrooms.

Investigators found .22 caliber casings in both Burl and Brenda Ritcheson's rooms, along with the remains of .410 gauge shotgun shells.

They also discussed how some of the wounds appeared to be from close-range, showing several photos of the scene and the autopsy, causing Keith to break out in tears multiple times.

Dr. John Heidingsfelder, the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsies, said Burl Ritcheson had four gunshot wounds: three to the chest and one to his temple.

Brenda Ritcheson had gunshot wounds to her temple, her chest and her back. One of the bullets traveled up her arm and broke a bone near her bicep.

Detective Jon Kilquist with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office said Ritcheson's son gave investigators a pair of guns Ritcheson owned: a .22 caliber rifle and a Taurus Judge revolver. The two firearms use ammo similar to what investigators found in his parents' bedrooms.

Public Defender Peggy Degen refuted the prosecutor's claims that Ritcheson shot and killed his parents, calling the trial a "tragedy of his alcoholism."

"All the evidence shows is Keith was a sad, little man, drinking himself to death in a small room in his parents' house," Degen said.

Degen said prosecutors have no motive for the shooting and no direct evidence tying him to the deaths.

Testimony is expected to wrap up Wednesday.

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