Accused mother killer makes first appearance in Carter Criminal Court

John Thompson • Sep 24, 2019 at 9:10 AM

ELIZABETHTON — A man accused of killing his mother had his first appearance in Carter County Criminal Court on Monday.

John Christopher Ralph, 51, is facing a first-degree murder (with premeditation) charge in the death of Edith Betty Ralph, 78. Her body was found on April 6 in the home that mother and son shared on Reynolds Road. Mrs. Ralph had been shot several times.

During Monday’s court proceedings, Judge Stacy Street assigned the case to the public defender’s office. No fee was set at this time. Ralph’s next court appearance was set for Dec. 9.

While Ralph is not facing an attorney bill at the moment, two weeks ago in Carter County Circuit Court he lost a wrongful death lawsuit in his mother’s death and was ordered to pay $300,000 in compensatory damage and $300,000 in a punitive assessment.

One of the key assets that Ralph had was the shared house with his mother. It is assessed by the county at $129,000. Mrs. Ralph gave the house to her son in 2004 with the provision that she maintained a life estate on the house as long as she lived.

Ralph’s bond has been set at $1 million. That was partly because he was arrested at Atlanta’s Hartsville-Jackson International Airport just before he was set to board a jet bound for Amsterdam after the shooting, police said.

The wrongful death lawsuit claims that the death of Mrs. Ralph extinguished the life estate that she held on the property and her son became the record owner of the property.

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