Closing arguments are expected to begin Wednesday in the trial of a Palm Desert woman accused of trying to beat her sister to death and attempting run over her mother during an altercation.
The defense rested Tuesday in the case of Erin Leah Richey, 43, who 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.
After more than two weeks of testimony, the defense called its final witnesses Tuesday, after which the prosecution completed its rebuttal testimony, at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Dean Benjamini scheduled closing arguments for Wednesday morning.
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.
According to sheriff’s investigators, on Dec. 15, 2018, she struck her sister, whose identity was not released, on the head with a mallet “numerous times” and also attempted to slash her with a knife during an unspecified confrontation.
The defendant 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 along 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 8-foot wall, according to prosecutors.
Court records show Richey has prior convictions for assault and driving under the influence, both misdemeanors.