Ricks arraigned for murder of boy who died in 2017 – 15 years after being severely injured

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 May 2019 at 12:27 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: David Ricks walks out of the Orleans County courtroom today after he was arraigned for second-degree murder in the death of DeVante Boston. Ricks has been incarcerated for the past 17 years and is due to be released July 19.

ALBION – A former Medina resident was arraigned in Orleans County Court today for second-degree murder, for causing the severe injuries that led to the death of DeVante Boston.

David Ricks, currently an inmate at the Wyoming Correctional Facility in Attica, appeared in court. He is represented by Public Defender Joanne Best and entered a not guilty plea.

Ricks has been incarcerated for about 17 years after being convicted of first-degree assault in 2003. He is due to have a conditional release from prison on July 19.

Matthew Murphy, a Niagara County Court judge, is handling the case and set bail this morning at $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond.

Orleans County District Attorney Joe Cardone pushed for the murder charge after DeVante died at age 20 on Oct. 27, 2017 and the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office said DeVante’s death was caused by his injuries when he was 4.

Ricks severely injured the boy in May 2002. Ricks was the boyfriend of DeVante’s mother. Ricks slammed DeVante’s head into the floor and caused him serious injuries after Ricks argued with DeVante’s mother. DeVante did not get immediate medical treatment. He had brain surgery but was left in a vegetative state.

DeVante was left unable to walk or talk after the assault. He stayed in a healthcare facility in Buffalo and functioned at about a 6-month-old’s level.

The delayed death provision allows for murder charges to be filed when a person assaulted dies after the perpetrator is convicted of a lesser crime. Cardone said it is used often in court, typically in cases where a death wasn’t long after a conviction for an assault charge.

“We’re in unchartered area,” he said about bringing the charge 17 years later.

Cardone said the charge is justified because Ricks’ actions clearly caused DeVante’s death and left the boy in pain the rest of his life.

DeVante Boston’s family held out this photo of DeVante when he was about 9. His great aunt Phyllis Winters made sure Ricks saw the photograph when he appeared in court today. DeVante was severely injured in 2002.

“To me this case is worse than murder,” Cardone said. “He was doomed to a life in a wheelchair and a permanent vegetative state. He suffered every day.”

If Ricks pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial, he could get 25 years to life in prison. He has already served 17 years, counting his time in the county jail before going to state prison. A murder conviction could add 8 years to life to his prison sentence.

About a dozen of DeVante’s family members attended the arraignment for Ricks. They want to see him convicted of murder.

Phyllis Winters, DeVante’s great aunt, brought a photograph of DeVante when he was about 9. She showed the photo to Ricks as he walked in handcuffs to appear before the judge.

“We want DeVante’s voice to be heard,” Winters said after the arraignment. “We feel he lived all of those years to bring out an awareness of child abuse. If we don’t stand and speak up for him and all the other children, no one will.”

Mindy Cogovan, DeVante’s aunt, said he was always in pain and in “seizure mode.” He needed a feeding tube to eat. He had trouble seeing and babbled to talk.

However, he responded when people visited and showed contentment with his family, she said.

“Ricks had more freedom that DeVante ever had,” she said.

Ricks wasn’t confined to a wheelchair, wasn’t disabled and wasn’t in pain, Cogovan said.

Joanne Best, the public defender, asked for no bail for Ricks so he can help with the defense in his case and also begin to live his life once he is on parole.

That irked Winters, the thought of Ricks being out of prison while facing a murder charge.

“I have no sympathy for him – none,” she said.

Ricks is due back in court on June 10. Motions in the case are due to be filed on July 9 and then argued in court on July 29. Judge Murphy set Oct. 21 as a tentative start date for a trial in the case.

DeVante’s aunt, Karen Boston of Medina, is urging the community to turn on blue lights in honor of DeVante on June 13, which would have been his 22nd birthday.

“It’s not just for DeVante, who fought for 17 years,” Boston said. “It’s for all the abused children.”

David Ricks walks from the courthouse to a vehicle to be transported back to the Wyoming Correctional Facility in Attica.

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