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Wife blindfolded husband for 'surprise,' beat him with hammer
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A 37-year-old Salt Lake City woman on Tuesday admitted hitting her husband in the head with a hammer three years ago after blindfolding him and promising a "surprise."

Amy Teresa Ricks was charged in 3rd District Court with second-degree felony attempted murder for the May 4, 2007, attack.

She pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, which is also a second-degree felony, but prosecutors have agreed to reduce the conviction to a third-degree felony after Ricks completes probation.

Prosecutors also agreed to allow Ricks to seek expungement of the crime after seven years.

Defense attorneys Susanne Gustin and Gilbert Athay called the expungement agreement a crucial part of the plea deal because of HB21, which is legislation that would no longer allow the expungement of any violent felony.

Sentencing is set for April 19 before Judge William Barrett.

Gustin said Ricks has no memory of the hammer attack because she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. But she knows she did it because she told a dispatcher about it during a 911 call, Gustin said.

Court records indicate the defense was preparing to claim at trial that Ricks was the victim of Battered Spouse Syndrome. Gustin on Tuesday declined to comment about trial strategy.

According to charging documents, Ricks and her husband, Joel Ricks, were out on a date when she drove him to her mother's Holladay condo.

Saying she had a surprise for him, Ricks blindfolded her husband and led him to the basement, where she spun him around, told him to count to 100 and then began striking him with a hammer, according to court documents.

After suffering several blows, Joel Ricks removed the blindfold and grabbed the hammer, although he was unable to get it away from his wife, who continued trying to hit him.

He fled to a neighboring condo, where he asked the residents to call 911. Amy Ricks, who went looking for her husband, also called 911. She was arrested about two miles away.

Joel Ricks, who suffered only minor injuries, told sheriff's deputies that sleeping bags had been spread on the floor under his feet, and that nearby he saw a 9-inch-long kitchen knife inside a plastic bag.

It was that element of apparent premeditation that prompted prosecutors to file a charge of attempted murder.

Gustin said the case took nearly three years to resolve because of defense efforts to obtain Joel Ricks' mental health records. The defense took its records request to both the Utah Court of Appeals and Utah Supreme Court without success.

Gustin said Tuesday's resolution will provide closure to both spouses, who are still married but are separated.

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Courts » SLC woman pleads guilty to aggravated assault in 2007 attack.
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