Judge Lynn Leibovitz found substantial probability Wednesday that Claire Rice shot and killed her cousin, Anthony Garland Rice, last year.
Leibovitz also ruled that Rice is a danger to the community; she remains held while a grand jury investigates the case.
Prosecutors believe that Rice – who worked as a manager at an Applebee’s restaurant – killed her cousin Dec. 17, 2012 to collect on two life insurance policies that she purchased in his name over two years ago.
Metropolitan Police Detective Brian Wise testified Wednesday that a search warrant of Rice’s Silver Spring, Md. home recovered two life insurance policies totaling $100,000 hidden in the ceiling. Anthony Rice was the insured party, and Claire Rice was the beneficiary, Wise said.
One of the policies was purchased in 2010, and the other was purchased in 2011. Both policies listed Claire and Anthony as brother and sister, and the address on the policies belonged to Claire Rice.
Police have no knowledge of Anthony Rice ever living with his cousin, and detectives know that Claire Rice was making payments on at least one of the policies, Wise told the court.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Holly Shick said Wednesday that the government believes Rice listed her address on the policies “so that Anthony would not receive notification that a policy had been taken out in his name.”
Prosecutors also allege that in the weeks leading up to Anthony’s murder, Claire Rice purchased a prepaid cell phone, a .38 caliber handgun, ammunition, and then on the morning of Dec. 17, 2012, lured Anthony from his home in order to carry out a plan that she concocted several years prior.
According to charging documents, early in the morning of Dec. 17, Anthony Rice told a friend that his cousin, Claire Rice, was going to drive him to meet someone about a handyman job. Anthony Rice, the documents say, was a certified electrician.
The witness told police that Claire Rice arrived at Anthony’s apartment around 2 a.m., and that Anthony called the witness a half hour later saying that he was in the Fort Lincoln area and would return shortly. The witness never spoke with Anthony Rice again.
Police found Rice’s body face-down in a park in the 3100 block of Fort Lincoln Drive Northeast; he died of multiple gunshot wounds to his head and chest. An envelope containing Anthony’s electrician certifications was found near his body.
Claire Rice initially told police that she hadn’t talked to Anthony for at least three months, but later told detectives that she had spoken to her cousin the night before his death – when he asked to borrow $150 to pay a drug debt. Her cousin had been assaulted by drug dealers in the past and sounded “in fear of his life,” she said.
Claire Rice told detectives that she dropped Anthony off near Marshall Elementary School in Northeast D.C. and left 30 minutes later. She then led detectives to the area where she last saw her cousin and showed them the path Anthony took when he left her vehicle.
The path leads to where Anthony Rice was murdered, the documents state.
Three days later, Homicide Detective Hosam Nasr spoke with Claire Rice over the phone and asked her to be reinterviewed. Rice then recanted her previous story and told Nasr that Anthony never entered her vehicle, nor did she give him a ride, on the morning of the murder.
Then, on Jan. 4, 2013, Rice changed her story again, according to charging documents.
Rice’s defense attorney, Marlon Griffith, said Wednesday that Rice changed her story because she was afraid that the drug dealers Anthony knew would harm her family.
Griffith also argued that the life insurance scheme prosecutors claimed didn’t make sense.
Police never found the weapon used to kill Anthony Rice. Charging documents, though, state that Claire Rice bought a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson Model 36 revolver and ammunition.
The store owner told police he only sells two types of .38 caliber ammo, and one of them matched the bullets found in Anthony’s body.
“This is very strong evidence that the firearm the defendant purchased is the firearm that caused the decedent’s death,” Judge Leibovitz said Wednesday.
Leibovitz scheduled a felony status conference on Judge Ronna Beck’s calendar for June 28.