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Judge Reduces Bail for Homicide Codefendant

Gloucester County Prosecutors Office press release May 31, 2013


Over the objection of an assistant Gloucester County prosecutor who called accused homicide Ladyjustice codefendant Amada Rickerd “a participant with full knowledge” of plans to rob  Joseph McConnell in his Franklinville home on March 31, a judge today reduced the 18-year-old Mantua resident’s bail on murder, robbery, assault and criminal restraint charges from $1 million to $500,000, cash or bond.


Judge M. Christine Allen-Jackson ruled on the bail reduction request after Rickerd defense attorney Richard Klineberger told the judge his client was not at the scene when McConnell was attacked by two older male codefendants, but was waiting with her aunt at a WaWa store, and “went above and beyond” to be cooperative” with investigators.  Rickerd has no juvenile or adult criminal record and her mother is willing to post bail and have Rickerd live with her, Klineberger said.


Klineberger contended it was “despicable” to characterize his client as a “mastermind” of the alleged conspiracy to rob the disabled McConnell, and he added that Rickerd’s own aunt, also a codefendant in the homicide, provided her niece with methamphetamine that fed what he claimed was an addiction.


Senior Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Audrey Curwin said the State’s position is not that Rickerd was a mastermind, but that she was “a participant with full knowledge” of what was about to happen to the 54-year-old McConnell.


The victim, disabled in an auto accident and receiving insurance settlement payments as a monthly annuity, was tied up in his Franklinville log cabin and left face down with his mouth duct-taped on a bathroom floor, where he died of “positional asphyxiation,”  an autopsy concluded.


Two men, one of them a friend of McConnell, along with Rickerd and her aunt, were charged with conspiring to rob and McConnell and with causing his death.  Two safes were taken from the victim’s home, one of them recovered from a Vineland-area lake.


Rickerd’s role was to drive the codefendants to McConnell’s house, drop the men off,  and“then she went back to get a bigger vehicle to remove the proceeds” of the robbery, Curwin told the court. Rickerd also knew the men were carrying zip-ties to bind McConnell and  she “tried to wash the dirty clothes” McConnell’s attackers wore, the prosecutor said. At a bail hearing for codefendant and McConnell friend Jon O. Nordberg, Curwin said blood-stained clothing was recovered from his Franklin home.


Rickerd “knew they were going to attack this man,” Curwin said. 


In ruling on the bail reduction request, Judge Allen-Jackson said “there is a need for significant bail” for Rickerd but noted that $1 million was at “the top of the range” for a murder charge, and she also considered that there was “some evidence of cooperation” by the defendant.


In addition to Nordberg  (DOB 6/5/72), of Vineland, and Rickerd aunt Valerie G. Niessner (DOB 2/12/66) of Sewell, who was Nordberg’s girlfriend, Nordberg friend David J. Buss  (DOB 6/2/79), of Glassboro is charged in the case.   Nordberg, described as having a key part in the plan to rob McConnell because of his knowledge of the victim,  is in jail in default of $1.5 million.  Buss and Niessner are being held in default of $1 million bail each.