SALT LAKE CITY — Her grandson's nightmares are finally gone, but Ann Palizzi still lays awake some nights thinking about her daughter's murder.
Palizzi had a bad feeling leading up to Jan. 6, 2008 — her daughter Kristy Ragsdale's 30th birthday — but never did she think her daughter's husband would pull up to a church parking lot in Lehi and shoot her daughter 13 times, killing her.
The memories are back now that a lawsuit was filed Monday against Pioneer Comprehensive Medical Clinic and a doctor and nurse working there. The suit alleges the steroids and drugs prescribed for and taken by convicted murderer David Ragsdale were a factor in the slaying.
The lawsuit was filed by court-appointed representative William Jeffs on behalf of the Ragsdales' now 6- and 3-year-old sons.
It alleges that family nurse practitioner Trina West, who worked at the Draper clinic, 12433 Fort St., began prescribing two of what would become several medications on April 16, 2007: two powerful steroids called testosterone and pregnenolone, which are listed as schedule III controlled substances. On May 2, West increased David Ragsdale's doses of both drugs.
The lawsuit states that in each instance, West did not consult the physician over her, Dr. Hugo Rodier, or any other medical doctor about placing Ragsdale on the drugs or increasing the dosages.
On July 9, 2007, the lawsuit alleges, West added Concerta, a psychostimulant drug known as methylphenidate that has similar risks associated with methamphetamine, to the drugs Ragsdale was taking.
West allegedly diagnosed Ragsdale with attention deficit disorder to justify the prescription for Concerta, the suit states.
On Sept. 5, the dosage of Concerta was doubled from 36 milligrams to 72 mg per day.
Just a few months later, on Dec. 20, Kristy Ragsdale obtained a restraining order against David Ragsdale, the day before he returned to the Draper clinic, and according to the lawsuit, was experiencing "toxic side effects from the combination of his prescribed medications."
Besides Concerta at 54 mg daily and the two steroids Pregnenolone at 600 mg daily and Testosterone at 200 mg weekly, Ragsdale was also taking the tranquilizer Valium at 5 mg daily, anti depressants Doxepin at 100 mg and Paxil at 40 mg daily. He was also taking a hair-loss medication, Propecia, at 1 mg daily.
Blood toxicology reports showed Ragsdale was within the prescribed ranges of all his medications and found no traces of any illicit substances at the time of the shooting.
During the sentencing in which David Ragsdale pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, a capital offense that was amended to a first-degree felony on June 2, 2008, he said he believed the drugs he was taking played a part in the Jan. 6 incident when he "snapped."
"I want you to know that I am confident I would not have taken Kristy's life had I not been on the medications I was on, but that being said, I take full responsibility for my actions," he said at his sentencing.
Ragsdale had also been charged with two counts of third-degree felony domestic violence in the presence of a child, which were later dismissed.
Utah County Prosecutor Craig Johnson said during the case that prosecutors consulted several experts about how serious an impairment a "cocktail of numerous medications" could cause and whether it would mitigate Ragsdale's criminal intent to shoot his wife.
"We didn't find that any of that evidence rose to a level of reasonable doubt," Johnson said.
The lawsuit claims that West was negligent in not consulting with a medical doctor in prescribing and increasing dosages of the medications and for keeping Ragsdale on the medications despite signs of toxicity. Rodier and the Draper clinic are also named in the suit. The plaintiffs request general and special damages, and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial.
Although not involved in the recent lawsuit, Johnson said attorneys arguing the case, who could not be reached Monday night for comment, would have to prove beyond just a reasonable doubt that the negligence of the nurse being sued contributed to Ragsdale's actions.
On Jan. 2, 2008, just four days before the shooting, Kristy Ragsdale signed a petition for temporary separation, and according to an affidavit, she said she knew her husband had had at least one adulterous affair. Kristy Ragsdale had requested support payments of at least $10,435 per month to pay expenses and maintain the same standard of living.
Lori Fowlke, the attorney representing Kristy Ragsdale, said in January 2008 that Kristy had called her before she died saying her husband was angry over the amount of support money being requested.
Palizzi was eventually granted custody of the Lehi couple's two sons. She stayed in her daughter's house with the boys during the 10 months of court proceedings.
Returning home to Milton, Wash., where Kristy grew up, brought all the memories back and the lawsuit has reopened the wounds, she said.
"They invited us to participate in the lawsuit, but we didn't get involved," Palizzi said. "I honestly don't have an opinion."
Her only concern is that her grandsons live without fear of their dad, who is in the Utah State Prison and not eligible for parole until 2036.
"The boys aren't angry. There was fear, but that's away," she said. "They've come to terms with the fact that he's (in prison) for a very long time until they're adults."
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