Lawyers Argue Over Dead Man's Competency to Stand Trial

Attorneys in the sexual assault case of a 91-year-old Palisade man have seen it come to a quick end, after they learned the nursing home resident accused of the crime died nearly a month ago.

Ralph Ridenour died at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Grand Junction on Feb. 22, according to Snell-McLean Funeral Home in Palisade, which handled his arrangements.

The suspect's public defender and officials from the Mesa County district attorney's office were in court Wednesday for a hearing to determine if Ridenour was fit to stand trial — unaware he was dead.

Ridenour was accused of forcible attempted sexual assault, forcible attempted sexual contact and other charges for allegedly grabbing a nurse at the Palisade Living Center, and repeatedly threatening to rape her.

He was due in court April 14.