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Sat, Aug. 24

Neo-Nazi gets life for killing woman in interracial couple

Travis Ricci (Arizona Department of Corrections photo)

Travis Ricci (Arizona Department of Corrections photo)

PHOENIX – A jury sentenced a neo-Nazi to life in prison Thursday for his murder conviction in the 2009 killing of a white woman during a dispute with her black boyfriend at a Phoenix park.

The jury denied the prosecution's push for a death sentence for the white supremacist. Prosecutors say 37-year-old Travis Ricci attacked Kelly Ann Jaeger and her boyfriend, Jeffery Wellmaker, after yelling racial slurs at Wellmaker and harassing him about dating a white woman.

They said Ricci left to get a shotgun, returned to the area and fired from a car as the couple stood near a pay phone. Investigators say Ricci intended to shoot Wellmaker but instead struck Jaeger.

Ricci, whose dress shirt and jacket covered up his Nazi and white-power tattoos, stood stoically with his hands in his pockets as the sentence was read in court. He was previously convicted of murder, attempted murder, drive-by shooting and other charges stemming from the October 2009 attack.

In seeking the death penalty, prosecutors have said the killing was meant to further the interests of the Vinlanders Social Club, a neo-Nazi group with a reputation for violence. Lawyers for Ricci have said his client wasn't a member of the Vinlanders.

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