Police interviews discussed in murder trial of son accused of ki - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Police interviews discussed in murder trial of son accused of killing his parents

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MURPHYSBORO, Ill. -- Attorneys in the trial of a Murphysboro man charged with killing his parents spent most of the second day of the trial dissecting the suspect's seven interviews with police.

Keith Ritcheson spoke with detectives for a total of nearly 19 hours in the week following Brenda and Burl Ritcheson's death.

Det. Chris Liggett with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office said Ritcheson changed his story several times.

First, Ritcheson said he knew nothing about the shooting and tried to name people who might've been involved: some business partners of his father, people his mother worked with at the public aid office, even Keith's own son.

"Dad used to call him the 'Unabomber,'" Ritcheson told Liggett during one of the interviews, referencing his son. "I hate to tell you, but look at the 'Unabomber.'"

Liggett and his partner regularly circled the conversation back to Ritcheson's drinking. Investigators found dozens of empty vodka bottles, hidden inside Ritcheson's room.

"Drinking was a really uncomfortable subject for him," Liggett said.

Ritcheson initially said after he got home from the convenience store, he went to the kitchen, put the alcohol in the fridge, sat down and opened a beer.

Then he noticed the lights were on in the hallway leading to the bedrooms and thought something was suspicious, later finding his parents dead in their rooms.

Burl Ritcheson was a recovering alcoholic, according to Liggett, and he said investigators learned the family was strongly religious and didn't allow alcohol into the home.

But Ritcheson initially told investigators he opened a beer in the kitchen before finding his parents. Liggett said that made him suspicious, asking why Ritcheson would do that if he previously hid his drinking from his parents.

After police arrested Ritcheson Aug. 17, he eventually admitted to detectives that he shot his father. But only to defend his mother.

Ritcheson said his parents got into a fight over his drinking the night of Aug. 13, 2017. Burl wanted to kick him out of the home all three shared but Brenda didn't, according to Keith. He said eventually Burl shot Brenda, and he tried to save his mom by shooting his dad.

Ritcheson also told detectives in the later interviews that he went to the convenience store to grab some liquor after his parents had been shot, but before calling 911.

Video surveillance footage captured from the Circle K on Williams Street and Route 13 in Murphysboro indicated Ritcheson was there between 11:53 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 13, 2017. He called 911 at 12:24 a.m. on Aug. 14.

The judge blocked off two days for the trial but the defense was only able to call one witness before the judge adjourned for the day around 4:45 p.m.

Public defender Peggy Degen said she needed the night to figure out where to go from here and the judge gave her that time.

The judge ordered the trial to resume at 9:45 a.m. Thursday.

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