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Stallings sentenced to life without parole plus 30 years

October 25, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

erinc@herald-mail.com

Elizabeth Malek clutched a worn tissue as she left the courtroom in tears Monday afternoon. She re-entered minutes before hearing that the man convicted of killing her daughter would spend the rest of his life in prison.

Ricky Rinaldo Stallings Jr., 24, was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus an additional 30 years, during a Washington County Circuit Court hearing.

Stallings, formerly of Chambersburg, Pa., was found guilty in late September of fatally shooting Mary Elizabeth Williams.

The life sentence was for Stallings' first-degree murder conviction. The additional 30 years was for an attempted second-degree murder conviction for shooting at Williams' boyfriend, Christopher Hobart.

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Williams, 34, was shot through a window of Hobart's car as she was being picked up for work Feb. 8 at about 7:50 a.m. outside her 13915 Maugansville Road home.

Stallings is the nephew of Williams' estranged husband.

Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III called Williams' slaying a "willfully premeditated, cold-blooded murder."

Stallings maintained his innocence during the hearing. He said he would not apologize or ask forgiveness from Williams' family for an act he did not commit.

"I know what it looks like," Stallings said. "I know how bad it looks."

Stallings asked Boone for leniency, but stared ahead without any visible change in emotion when the judge refused to grant it.

Williams' family and friends gathered in the courtroom holding hands and bowing heads.

Before Stallings was sentenced, Malek slowly stood and faced him.

"Sitting over there is an evil, evil person, and he did the most awful thing of murdering my daughter," she said.

Malek showed the judge photographs of her daughter before her death and then spoke of the way she now sees her daughter - cold, blue, still.

The last time she saw her daughter was on an operating table in an emergency room, she said.

"I couldn't find my Mary there," Malek said. "I just see this ... blue corpse, and that's all I have to remember her by."

After the hearing, Malek said she was exhausted, but relieved that Stallings was sentenced to life without parole. The opportunity to look at Stallings and tell him what she thought of him also brought some relief, she said.

"That made it easier," she said. "It's a closing with him, but that's about it."

Stallings' mother, Lisa Williams, also made a statement. She pleaded with Boone, saying she and the rest of her family believe Stallings is innocent. She said there was never any motive offered by the prosecutors. Williams said her son was the father of young children, who should not have to lose their father forever.

She asked that Boone offer her son "some hope" by not limiting parole.

Malek said if Stallings appeals the verdict or appears in court for any other reason, she plans to be in court, too.

Stallings has the right to file for an appeal, motion for a reduction in his sentence and seek a review of his sentence by a three-judge panel.

"There is no reason to doubt (Stallings) will do all of these," Assistant State's Attorney Robert Veil said. "(But) I see no reason at this time that the sentence would change. We'll have to wait and see."

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