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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.

9 Responses to “Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan Plead Out.”

  1. shockandawe Says:

    Okay legal eagles, here’s my question:

    If Kelly does time as a felon - which she will - she is disallowed from visiting Craig in prison, forevermore, isn’t she? Is she not seen as a felon first, and wife second, and therefore ineligible to visit another felon? I am very curious about this and have thought about it throughout this time - knowing she would not do as much time as Craig, likely.

    Is anyone versed in this?

  2. Shocks mama Says:

    Who cares anymore. Now u can go put time into more useless stuff.

  3. Old Time Fitness Competitor Says:

    well it last less than 3 weeks!!! LOL I guess we all know who actually did it now. unbelievable. so will they get credit for time served?

    since Kelly got 2 to 15 on two counts she should be eligible for parole in a few years. i live in colorado and here you can do less than half the time if you stay out of trouble. is it the same in nv?

  4. shockandawe Says:

    I’m not sure we all know who did it now - that’s not exactly how this works.
    What has happened is that Titus has “taken one for the team,” so to speak, and as part of that he must admit to murder to satisfy the district attorney’s office.

    Just because Sagesse is on tape saying that his client “took responsibility as evidenced by the plea” doesn’t mean that Ryan wasn’t guilty of murder.

    Here is the link to that, btw, posted on getbig.com:

    http://www.lasvegasnow.com/Global/story.asp?S=8404128&nav=menu102_2

    As for time served… they probably will get credit for that. But let’s hope in the one case, that isn’t all.

    I thought long and hard about this and I just can’t believe that Cristalli is being allowed to argue for probation only for Kelly. I say that after a great deal of struggle - trying my best not to be judgmental, but also trying to piece the facts of the grand jury testimony together with the person I once knew and the things I knew about them from the beginning….

    Truth is, if she doesn’t do time, something has gone wrong. I don’t mean that hatefully either.

    I just think that if someone helps to hurt another person - as in tasering and punching and whatever else - then injects that same person with morphine, and hides the fact that it happened, buys lighter fluid and then burns the evidence of what happened and flees the state, hoping to flee the country, they deserve a little more than just 2.5 years in county.

    I know Melissa’s mother will be devastated. However, a walk could happen.

    Yes, Kelly made a terrible mistake - the biggest being that she tried that hard to be loved by someone whose approval was never really worth it. But, she still participated in torturing and beating up another human being.

    Friend or no friend, past or present, doing some time is the right thing here. I would be very upset to hear she only got probation - that’s honest.

    I do hope that she has a life one day, and I do hope she has a chance to find ways each day to redeem herself for what she has done. However, for her to merely get probation, and then resume her life in July, when, as Maura says, Melissa will never be able to do the same, something has gone very, very wrong.

  5. shockandawe Says:

    By the way, according to a May 31 article by the AP, here’s what an Alford plea means:

    >

    I think it’s fairly arrogant to have admitted to friends she punched Melissa in the face and to have Megan Foley say that Kelly told her she injected MJ with morphine while Craig held her down, but then NOT admit guilt in it.

    I realize legally you want to minimize any of your responsibility in something like this, but it was carefully calculated so that she would NOT be financially responsible in the civil trial.

    I think that’s deplorable.

  6. shockandawe Says:

    Sorry, putting (>) I forgot makes the quote disappear in html.

    Here’s the AP quote referencing what the Alford plea means:

    Titus’ wife, Kelly Ryan, 35, pleaded guilty to arson and entered an Alford plea to battery with a deadly weapon resulting in significant bodily harm. The Alford plea means Ryan didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged that enough evidence exists to convict her.

  7. BS Says:

    1. Thank you admin for maintaining this informative site and I hope you continue throughout the civil process.

    2. shockandawe-Get a life. It’s over and no one cares about Craig and Kelly’s future. Personally I hope they both rot in hell. That goes for any Titus and Ryan supporters.

    3. Thanks again admin for a job well done.

  8. CHAINSAW Says:

    I was on my way to Utah to go fishing and
    I saw this on the front page of he paper that they
    pled guilty.

    I agree shock, CT took one for the team.
    In the GJ transcripts, sounds like Kelly was
    actually the instigator.

    I wonder how Ct will act infront of the
    court when he describes what happened.

    I might just take a stroll down to the courthouse
    on that day.

  9. shockandawe Says:

    BS, did Ron hire you to lend personal props to his board in posts? Just curious…

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