Friday, January 9–Erika Sifrit’s Quest For New Trial Begins In Frederick

BERLIN – Convicted killer Erika Sifrit, who along with her husband Benjamin, brutally murdered and dismembered a Virginia couple vacationing in Ocean City on Memorial Day weekend in 2002, made her first bid for a retrial this week in the Frederick County Circuit Court where she was tried and found guilty of the heinous crimes five years ago.

Sifrit and new attorney Robert Biddle appeared in Circuit Court in Frederick County this week for post-conviction hearings on Monday and Tuesday. In September, Sifrit, through her attorney, filed a motion for post-conviction relief and a request for a new trial, citing the failings of her defense team during her original trial. The court agreed to at least listen to her motions and held hearings this week on Monday and Tuesday, although no decision on a new trial has been reached. Another post-conviction hearing is set for Feb. 9 in Frederick, after which a judge will likely make a decision on the bid for a new trial.

The Sifrits, both originally from Hollidaysburg, Pa., were convicted in separate trials around the state in 2003 after the highly sensational cases were moved from Worcester County. Erika Sifrit received a life sentence plus 20 years for her role in the killings of Martha Crutchley and Joshua Ford, whose dismembered bodies were found in a Delaware landfill in the weeks after the murders in Ocean City on Memorial Day weekend in 2002.

In his petition for relief, Biddle outlines how Erika Sifrit was not mentally responsible for her part in the murders and points out the discovery of certain medications on her at the time of her capture illustrate she was not fully capable of understanding what had occurred.

“By failing to obtain the necessary records, and by failing to provide those records to qualified experts, the defense missed the opportunity to show that Mr. Sifrit manipulated and controlled his wife, abused her psychologically to the point she lacked the capacity of a rational adult and became so extremely dependent on him that she would do anything he requested, regardless of the harm it caused,” the appeal reads.

The appeal for a new trial goes on to say, “Had the information been obtained, there is a substantial possibility that the outcome of the verdict and/or the sentence would have been affected.”