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Ralph makes first court appearance on charge of murdering his mother; faces $2 million lawsuit

John Thompson • Apr 16, 2019 at 10:00 AM

ELIZABETHTON — John Christopher Ralph made his first appearance in court on Monday morning. He is facing a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of his mother, Edith “Betty” Ralph.

Ralph’s appearance in Carter County Sessions Court was a brief one. Prior to his appearance before Judge Keith Bowers Jr., Ralph met with Assistant District Attorney General Mark Hill. As part of his meeting with Hill, Ralph filled out a “Uniform Affidavit of Indigency,” a standard form used by local courts to determine whether the defendant is qualified for a public defender.

Ralph listed several assets on the form, including a house and eight acres of land, which were valued at $150,000. Ralph said he did not owe anything on the house and land. Ralph also reported he owned an 1996 Saturn. He also said he had $25,000 in a 401K account; $2,000 in cash and $2,500 in a checking or savings account.

Based on the assets claimed on the affidavit, Bowers said Ralph did not qualify for court-appointed counsel.

Bowers ordered Ralph to return to court next Monday for a status report on Ralph’s effort to retain an attorney.

Monday was an eventful day for the Ralph Family. In addition to being Ralph’s first day in court on his murder charge, the day was also designated for the funeral and burial of his mother.

Also on Monday, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Carter County Circuit Court. The lawsuit was brought by John L. Febuary, the lone remaining brother of Mrs. Ralph and her personal representative in her estate. Attorneys Lanny Norris and David Bush of the firm of Norris, Bush & Byrd represent Febuary in the wrongful death suit.

Febuary is seeking $1 million from Ralph in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.

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