Fatally flawed: Lawyers ask end to Rice case

Lawyers for a man once accused of slashing two hikers to death in Shenandoah National Park asked a federal judge last week to bar prosecutors from trying to charge him again.

Darrell David Rice "is innocent, and he's entitled to the same closure as the families of the victims,'' defense attorney Gerald Zerkin said.

Earlier this month, the government sought to drop capital murder charges against Rice, 36, in the deaths of the two women, both in their mid-20s. The prosecutors said new evidence cast doubt on its case but asked a judge to allow them to re-indict Rice in the future if they chose.

Zerkin's response, filed in Charlottesville federal court, argued that Rice should be left alone altogether. After a six-and-half-year investigation, he said, the government's case is hopelessly flawed.

Rice, of Columbia, Maryland, was indicted in 2002 for the killings that took place on Memorial Day weekend in 1996. Prosecutors had said Rice hated women and gays, and he targeted the two hikers because they were lovers. They were found bound and gagged with their throats slit at a remote camp.

The case against Rice was based primarily on jailhouse informants. An FBI analysis, however, recently concluded that hairs found on clothing scattered around the campsite and under duct tape used to bind one of the women's wrists came from someone other than Rice.

Rice is serving a federal term for the attempted abduction in 1997 of a young woman, also in the Shenandoah National Park. He has about two and a half years left on that sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Bondurant did not immediately return phone calls to his office and cell phone late Thursday when the motion was filed.

Lollie Winans

Julie Williams

Darryl Rice