Tennessee Supreme Court upholds Memphis man’s murder conviction, death sentence


Michael Rimmer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for a Memphis man convicted twice of killing his former girlfriend back in 1997.

According to a release from the Tennessee Supreme Court, Ricci Lynn Ellsworth and Michael Rimmer were involved in a relationship in the 1980s. In 1989, Rimmer was convicted and sentenced to jail time after he pled guilty to raping Ellsworth.

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While in jail, he told another inmate that he would kill his former girlfriend once he was released.

On the night of February 7, 1997, Ellsworth left her home and headed to work at the Memphis Inn in Shelby County. She never returned home and left behind her purse, wedding ring, car and bloody crime scene at the inn. No one heard from her again and her body was never recovered.

During trial, witnesses said they saw a man matching Rimmer’s description loading something wrapped in a blanket into a maroon Honda. When authorities arrested Rimmer a month later, he was driving a maroon Honda, which contained traces of Ellsworth’s blood.

While in prison, Rimmer allegedly tried to escape several times and even told another inmate about the murder, authorities said. He did nothing to help investigators locate Ellsworth’s body.

Memphis man again sentenced to death after getting new trial

Rimmer was convicted of murder in 1998, but that was overturned after the district attorney’s office was accused of not turning over information to the defense. He was tried again in 2016 and sentenced to death.

The court of appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence. The case was then automatically sent to the Tennesse Supreme Court for review and the sentenced was again upheld.

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