Police Officer William Ronald Toney
Beech Grove Police Department, Indiana
Summary of Offense:
While on routine patrol, Beech Grove police officer Matthew Hickey noticed a white van matching the description of a van stolen earlier in the evening. Officer Hickey followed the white van, which accelerated at a high rate of speed. Officer Hickey gave chase and was joined by Officer William Toney and Sergeant Robert Mercuri, each driving separate marked police cars. The vehicular chase ended when the driver, Benjamin Ritchie, wrecked the van, then fled on foot. The passenger, Michael Greer, fell from the van and also ran. Officer Hickey chased Greer on foot and caught up to him a short distance away. Officer Toney chased Ritchie on foot through several yards and into the backyard of 717 Fletcher Avenue, where he was shot five times with a 9-mm Glock handgun. One of the four bullets Ritchie fired missed Officer Toney’s bulletproof vest by an inch, cut through an artery, punctured his lung and lodged itself in his vertebrae. Ritchie ditched a wig and the handgun in shrubbery nearby and eventually made his way to the home of a friend, where he was arrested the next morning. While in jail, Ritchie was interviewed by four local television reporters. During all four interviews, Ritchie both claimed to be very sorry for what he had done and for the death of Officer Toney, but that he had not fired the fatal shot. Rather, Ritchie claimed that he dropped his weapon and that he heard it go off as he ran away.
At sentencing, the victim's wife was reading her victim impact statement when Ritchie repeatedly interrupted her, laughed and called her a "bitch" when she declared him a coward. The victim statement was given in the presence of Ritchie after sentencing in accordance with a new statute which was enacted in 2002 despite warnings that such outbursts would become commonplace from defendants with nothing to lose after being sentenced to death.
Trial: Information/PC for Murder filed (10-04-00); Gag Order entered (10-10-00); Amended Information for DP filed (11-01-00); Guilty Plea to Poss Firearm (07-31-02); Voir Dire (07-31-02, 08-01-02, 08-02-02, 08-05-02); Jury Trial (08-05-02, 08-06-02, 08-07-02, 08-08-02, 08-09-02, 08-10-02); Verdict (08-10-02); DP Trial (08-12-02, 08-13-02, 08-14-02); Verdict (08-14-02); Court Sentencing (10-15-02).
Conviction: Murder, Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon, Auto Theft, Resisting Law Enforcement, Resisting Law Enforcement, Carrying Handgun Without License.
Sentencing: October 15, 2002 (Death Sentence, 20 years, 3 years, 3 years, 1 year, Merged - all concurrent)
b (6) Victim was law enforcement officer
b (9) On probation or parole
Defendant's youthful age
Diagnosis of Cognitive Disorder N.O.S.
Abused, head injuries as a child
Mother abused drugs and alcohol during pregnancy
True natural father unknown
Meager economic status