Attorney: Ruggiero knew court rejected appeal


Published Dec 30, 2011

GOFFSTOWN — It could be months until what caused the death of inmate Kristin Ruggiero is officially known, but one new development in the case was confirmed Thursday: she knew that the state Supreme Court had rejected the appeal of her conviction for falsifying evidence.

Ruggiero was found dead Wednesday in the New Hampshire State Prison for Women in Goffstown about 90 minutes after the state’s Supreme Court released its decision online. Corrections staff found her suffering what appeared to be a seizure in her room at approximately 10:30 a.m., and she quickly became unresponsive.

Prison medical staff attempted to resuscitate Ruggiero without success, and she was transported to Catholic Medical Center in Manchester where she was pronounced dead.

Ruggiero, 36, was convicted in Rockingham County Superior Court of multiple counts of falsifying physical evidence and was serving seven to 14 years. She was admitted to the women’s prison on Aug. 19, 2010, and would have been eligible for parole on Jan. 7, 2018.

The New Hampshire State Police and Corrections Investigation Bureau are investigating the circumstances surrounding her death.

“An autopsy was scheduled to take place (Thursday) morning,” said Capt. Dave Parenteau, with the Investigative Services branch of the state police. “Due to the nature of the toxicology tests, it could take up to three months before we receive a cause of death from the medical examiner’s office. Until we have a cause, we won’t have anything further to release on the investigation.”

Staff at the medical examiner’s office confirmed the potential three-month time frame for results to be made public, and confirmed that an autopsy had been performed.

Defense Attorney Mark Sisti confirmed that he had spoken with Ruggiero Wednesday morning and informed her of the Supreme Court’s decision. He would not discuss the nature of that conversation or her reaction to the decision.

Ruggiero was convicted of using a cell phone that she had registered in the name of her ex-husband, Jeffrey Ruggiero, and sending threatening messages to herself and falsely reporting to police that her ex had sent them. She sent the messages after obtaining a restraining order against him.

Jeffrey Ruggiero was convicted in April 2008 of threatening, sending obscene material and violating a protective order based on Ruggiero’s allegations against him. A Superior Court judge would clear Jeffrey Ruggiero’s name by annulling his convictions in September 2010.

The trial jury that convicted Kristin Ruggiero determined she had sent the messages to herself after Jeffrey and Jean Ruggiero recorded messages and texts she had sent to him, which law enforcement officials were able to match up with phone numbers used to send the made-up threats to herself.

Sisti argued during her appeal that the evidence should have been thrown out under RSA 570-A:6, because Kristin Ruggiero’s consent was not obtained by Jeffrey and Jean Ruggiero in South Carolina before they made the recordings. New Hampshire requires the consent of all parties before a recording is made, but South Carolina does not. Sisti argued that his client, as a New Hampshire resident, would have the expectation of privacy regarding the recordings.

But in the Supreme Court’s decision, justices wrote that no law was broken, because the calls were legally intercepted in South Carolina. They also pointed out that Kristin Ruggiero was a resident of California at the time she made the calls, and not living in New Hampshire.

Source: Union Leader