A 64-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison Friday after he was convicted of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sex offense in a 1977 attack on a woman in Rockville.
Richard Eugene Ricketts had been found guilty in February of the attack, which took place on the evening of October 24, 1977 outside the victim's apartment building on Congressional Lane after she arrived home from work. The victim told police at the time that the man put one arm around her neck and the other arm over her mouth to stop her from screaming. The man then raped her and ran away.
The case was reopened in 2011 by the cold-case unit of the Montgomery County police. Swabs from the victim's body matched the DNA of Ricketts, who was serving a prison sentence in Florida following a 1999 conviction for burglary and sexual assault. He had also been convicted of second-degree rape and burglary in Maryland in 1979.
In passing sentence on Ricketts, who was 29 years old at the time of the assault, Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Terrence McGann called him "a wretched and warped man," adding, "whatever good qualities you may possess have been smothered over the years by your evil ones." Judge McGann also added 50 years onto Ricketts' life sentence, 25 years for each sex offense.
Montgomery State's Attorney John McCarthy released a statement after the sentencing, saying "This verdict and sentence shows that you cannot outrun the long arm of the law. Thank goodness for the DNA database. It is important that this defendant is held accountable for this rape and sexual assault from over 30 years ago. Today's sentence will assure the public that Mr. Ricketts spends the rest of his productive life in jail."