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Craig Titus & Kelly Ryan Investigation » Blog Archive » Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan Plead Out.

Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan Plead Out.

craig titus kelly ryan guilty

It’s been 2.5 years and this chapter ends in the 11th hour. This case is far from over though. Don’t forget there is a civil trial filed by Maura James, Melissa’s mother. The following was posted on the Las Vegas Review Journal Website.

Bodybuilding champions Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan entered 11th-hour guilty pleas on Friday in connection with the December 2005 murder of the couple’s personal assistant.

Titus, 43, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and arson in the death of 28-year-old Melissa James, whose charred body was found in a torched Jaguar sedan in the desert near Blue Diamond Road.

Ryan, 35, pleaded guilty to arson and battery with a deadly weapon with significant bodily harm.

Judge Jackie Glass accepted the pleas Friday evening, bringing to a close the high-profile case that was set to go to trial Monday after years of delays.

“The train was coming down the tracks, and all parties got together to come to an agreement,” Deputy District Attorney Robert Daskas said.

Titus and Ryan are scheduled to be sentenced July 18.

Titus faces 17 to 55 years in prison. Each of Ryan’s charges carry sentences of two to 15 years in prison.

The defense and prosecution worked for seven hours Friday to hammer out the deal in Glass’ courtroom, Titus defense attorney Marc Saggese said.

During negotiations Titus was primarily concerned that his wife might face a murder charge when the case went to trial, Daskas said.

The couple, who had proclaimed their innocence in court and interviews, were facing first-degree murder charges that could have landed them in prison for the rest of their lives.

“We feel that this is a fair resolution for her (Ryan),” Ryan defense attorney Michael Cristalli said. “We’re happy with the outcome.”

Titus and Ryan were once world-class bodybuilders, their chiseled physiques gracing the covers of fitness magazines and Web sites. Titus is a past place-winner in the international Mr. Olympia competition; Ryan is a former Ms. Fitness America and Ms. Olympia runner-up.

But when Las Vegas police found James’ body in the couple’s red Jaguar S-type, they gained notoriety of a different sort.

Police alleged Titus and Ryan attacked James with a Taser, drugged her with morphine, duct-taped her face, restrained her and beat her. They then put her in the trunk of Ryan’s car, drove it into the desert off Blue Diamond Road, and set it on fire, according to authorities.

The burning car, and the body in it, were discovered in the early morning hours of Dec. 14.

Following initial interviews with police, in which they claimed they kicked James out of their house after they discovered she was stealing, the couple allegedly made a series of incriminating statements to friends and left the area.

A nationwide manhunt ensued, culminating in the couple’s arrest near Boston.

Titus in 2005 told police that James had overdosed on drugs at the couple’s southwest Las Vegas house and that he panicked and burned the body to try to avoid negative publicity that would have ruined the couple’s careers.

In an interview with the Review-Journal in 2006, Titus said he and Ryan were “not guilty of murdering anybody.”

“Kelly and I loved Melissa,” Titus said. “She was our friend. She was family. … She was one of my best friends.”

But police uncovered images of Ryan on Wal-Mart surveillance videotape buying lighter fluid.

An autopsy was unable to determine a cause or manner of James’ death, meaning the Clark County coroner’s office never ruled the death a homicide.

Although Titus won’t face life in prison, Daskas said Friday: “We feel like we got what we wanted out of him.”

“We may never know exactly what happened in that house” between James, Titus and Ryan, he said.

“Ultimately, it was Craig Titus who killed her,” he said.

Saggese said Friday that Titus asked for an opportunity to apologize to James’ mother, Maura James, which could occur at his sentencing.

Saggese said he was pleased with the outcome of the deal, which will get Ryan out of prison early enough to have “a life.”

“Craig Titus also may have a life sometime down the road,” Saggese said.

The couple had fired their attorneys once during the case, and Titus had attempted to get a new judge, calling Glass “wicked” and “mean.”

More controversy followed. In February, a man described as an awestruck fan of Titus’ was found guilty of attempting to hire a hitman to kill three key witnesses in the case against Titus.

Titus denied any knowledge of the murder-for-hire plot and hasn’t been charged in the case.

Las Vegas detectives had one of the witnesses pose as if dead and sent the photos to Titus in the hopes that he would wire the hitman money.

Titus simply turned the photos over to his attorney.

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