INDIO (CNS) – A Palm Desert woman who tried to beat her sister to
death and attempted to run over her mother during an altercation that followed
other attacks involving pets and a neighbor, was convicted today of attempted
murder and additional offenses, but jurors must now decide whether she is sane.
Following nearly three days of deliberations, an Indio jury found 43-
year-old Erin Leah Richey guilty of the attempted murder count, along with two
counts each of felony assault and animal cruelty, and one count each of auto
theft, arson and being in possession of an explosive device, with sentencing-
enhancing great bodily injury allegations.
The jury acquitted Richey of a related attempted murder count. The
attacks occurred in the 77500 block of Mountain View Avenue and the 77330 block
of Missouri Drive.
The defense maintains that Richey was not in her right mind at the
time, and a mental competency trial will now proceed to determine sanity.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Dean Benjamini scheduled opening
statements before the same jury panel on Tuesday at the Larson Justice Center.
The defendant is being held in lieu of $2 million bail at the Smith
Correctional Facility in Banning. She could face life in prison if she’s ruled
According to sheriff’s investigators, on Dec. 15, 2018, Richey 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
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 said.
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 on
Missouri Drive in Palm Desert, where Richey set fire to a carport, causing burn
injuries to a woman residing at the location, according to testimony from the
defendant’s 2020 preliminary hearing. The victim was not identified in court
The animal abuse charges were brought because the defendant 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
Court records show Richey has prior convictions for assault and
driving under the influence, both misdemeanors.
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