Prostitute murders Los Ang 1989
Prostitute murder charges against deputy dropped LOS ANGELES (AP) — A veteran sheriffs deputy once accused of murdering three prostitutes walked out of jail with charges dropped after additional tests showed the gun found in his car was not used in the killings. Rickey Ross, 40, broke into tears Monday and repeatedly said "Praise the Lord!" and "Thank God!" when told of his impending release, according to Don Ingwersen, Ross' court-appointed investigator. But the 18-year sheriff's veteran remains a suspect in the case because of other evidence uncovered during the investigation, said Deputy District Attorney William Hodgman. "We don't want to exclude Mr. Ross until we investigate all possibilities," Hodgman said. "It may well result that we can dismiss him as a suspect in time. At the moment, we can't say that." However, Hodgman said of the ballistics tests, I think we can in all honesty say that is not the gun." Ross, of Rialto, was arrested early in the morning Feb. 23 during a routine traffic stop in the crime-ridden South Central Los Angeles area. He allegedly was seated next to a prostitute, and a 9mm semiautomatic pistol was found in the trunk. Authorities charged Ross with three counts of murder Feb. 27 after Police Department ballistics tests were said to have linked the gun to the killings of three prostitutes. Since his arrest, Ross's family and attorney strongly denied his guilt. On Saturday, Ross released a statement from jail, saying, "I have never killed anyone" and contending he had witnesses to vouch for his whereabouts during the killings. He said he had put the gun — his former service weapon — in his trunk after it had become water damaged and rusted. "By LAPD's own admission," Ross said, "the gun had to be forced open to be test-fired." On Monday, authorities announced that two subsequent ballistics tests conducted outside the Police Department found that the slugs that killed the women were fired from the same kind of gun, but not the weapon found in Ross's car. Municipal Court Judge Elva Soper agreed to dismiss the charges, which carried special circumstances that could have brought the death penalty if Ross were convicted. Ross joined his wife at an undisclosed location after his release from jail. "Rickey said from day one that he didn't kill anybody," says Ross's attorney, Jay Jaffe. "A more thorough examination would have reached a conclusion that this case should not have been filed." Cmdr. William Booth, a police spokesman, declined to say that the department had erred, but acknowledged that officials had begun an internal review of the matter. He said additional tests will be done on the gun. Ross, who had been a narcotics investigator assigned to the Los Angeles International Airport detail at the time of his arrest, was charged with the Oct. 14 slaying of Judith Simpson, 27; the Nov. 18 slaying of Cynthia Walker, 35; and the Dec. 11 slaying of Latanya Johnson, 24. All of the women were found in the South Central area. Ross was dismissed from the Sheriff's Department after his arrest. Sheriff's offi- 1 Rickey said from day one that he didn't kill anybody. A more thorough examination would have reached a conclusion that this case should not have been filed.' Jay Jaffe Defense attorney cials declined to say Monday if he would be allowed to return to his job.