Jury Box. MNLA photo by Jay Martin

The prosecution rested Thursday in the trial of a Palm Desert woman accused of hitting her sister over the head with a mallet and trying to run over her mother during an altercation at their home.

After roughly a week of testimony, the prosecution called its final witnesses in the trial of Erin Leah Richey at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, setting the stage for the defense to open its case.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Dean Benjamini set defense testimony to get underway Tuesday, giving the jury extra time off because of the religious holidays.

Richey, who is being held in lieu of $2 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, could face life in prison if convicted.

Richey, 43, is charged with two counts each of attempted murder, assault and animal cruelty, as well as one count of auto theft, arson and being in possession of an explosive device in connection with the 2018 attack in the 77500 block of Mountain View Avenue.

According to sheriff’s investigators, on Dec. 15, 2018, Richey allegedly struck her sister, whose name was not released, on the head with a mallet “numerous times” and also attempted to slash her with a knife during an unspecified confrontation.

Richey then took one of the victim’s vehicles, and as she was speeding away, attempted to run over her mother, also not identified, who owned the property where Richey was staying in a trailer, investigators allege.

The sister was hospitalized with non-life-threatening head injuries, according to sheriff’s officials. Their mother was not hurt.

Richey was arrested later that same day while driving on Avenida Caballeros in Palm Springs.

The arson charge stems from an attack reported two days earlier in the 77330 block of Missouri Drive in Palm Desert, where Richey allegedly set fire to a carport, causing burn injuries to a woman residing at the location, according to testimony from a 2020 preliminary hearing.

The animal abuse charges were filed because the defendant allegedly set her cat, Mabel, on fire and sprayed ant and roach killer into her mother’s dog’s eyes before throwing the pooch over an eight-foot wall, according to prosecutors.

Court records show Richey has prior convictions for assault and driving under the influence, both misdemeanors.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *