BROCKTON — It was a volatile mix of an extramarital affair and existing mental health issues that led Christine Ricci to fatally stab her husband in the heart in their Marshfield home in January, a Plymouth County prosecutor said in court.
Christine Ricci, 46, cried as she pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday to charges of murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in the killing of her husband Michael Ricci, 51. Christine Ricci was arraigned virtually from a jail in Boston on the charges in Plymouth County Superior Court in Brockton.
Plymouth County Assistant District Attorney Shanan Buckingham said Marshfield police responded to the Ricci home in Marshfield shortly before 5 p.m. on January 28 after their 16-year-old child called 911. Firefighters treating Michael Ricci found that he had been stabbed in the heart and on the back of his left shoulder, Buckingham said, adding that he had also been slashed on his back.
Buckingham said that Christine Ricci told officers her husband had a manic episode for three days and had just come in after shoveling snow when an argument ensued and he became aggressive and pushed her.
The prosecutor said Christine Ricci explained that she grabbed a knife to scare him away. He then lunged at her and the knife was plunged into his chest, she said. Buckingham said there was no evidence to suggest the man came after her.
“She intentionally assaulted him,” Buckingham said.
The prosecutor said an affair by Michael Ricci led to issues in the marriage and the pair sought couple’s therapy. Christine Ricci has been aggressive in the past, Buckingham said, leaving her husband with bruises and a fat lip.
While it appeared Michael Ricci had been treated for depression, Buckingham said prosecutors couldn’t confirm a range of other mental health issues that Christine Ricci claimed he suffered from.
Joshua Wood, Christine Ricci’s defense attorney, pushed back on the prosecutor’s narrative.
“We have factual disputes about the context in which this occurred,” Wood said. “There were mental health issues on both sides.”
Buckingham, at a previous court hearing, described a prior incident in which Christine Ricci is said to have lunged at her husband with a knife.
After the stabbing, Michael Ricci was taken to South Shore Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Michael Ricci was a Boston firefighter for more than two decades and a U.S. Army veteran. He was celebrated in a large funeral, widely attended by fellow firefighters in February.
Christine Ricci was indicted last month, which transferred her case from district court to superior court, where more serious crimes are prosecuted. She was held without bail without prejudice Tuesday, meaning her lawyer could ask for bail at a later court date.
Ricci’s case is due back in court in Plymouth on June 10.
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Joe Difazio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jldifazio.