PROVO David Ragsdale can argue he was mentally unstable when he fatally shot his wife 10 times in a Lehi parking lot, but his sister cannot she's not an attorney.
Ragsdale, who is charged with aggravated murder in 4th District Court in the death of his wife, Kristy, recently responded to a wrongful death lawsuit with four short points of defense. But the problem is he didn't sign the document. His sister did.
Now a real attorney is asking for the answer to be thrown out and for the judge to issue a default judgment in favor of the couple's two young sons.
"(Tamara Ragsdale) is not now, nor has she ever been, admitted or licensed to practice law in Utah," according to the memorandum filed Monday by attorney Robert L. Jeffs. "As such, her filing of an answer for David Ragsdale ... constitutes an unauthorized practice of law."
Jeffs alleges that David Ragsdale caused the wrongful death of his wife when he fatally shot her Jan. 6 outside an LDS meetinghouse. Because of that, he should compensate his two young boys for her loss and provide financial security for their future, the suit says.
Acting under power of attorney, Tamara Ragsdale argued that David Ragsdale "due to his mental state of mind at the time of this tragedy did not knowingly or intentionally mean to cause her serious bodily harm or death," according to her answer.
"David Ragsdale was mentally incapacitated at the time of this tragedy due to being severely overmedicated with seven prescription medications," she wrote. "David was unaware of his actions until after the fact."
Tamara Ragsdale did not return calls for comment.
The power of attorney gives someone the right to pick up a paycheck, deal with creditors or even sign someone else's name but not practice law, said William Jeffs, the guardian ad litem appointed for the two young Ragsdale boys and the person responsible to manage their affairs.
Any person can go before a judge to represent himself in a civil or criminal matter, but that right disappears for anyone but an attorney if there's another person involved.
"Tamara is attempting to use the power of attorney to represent her brother, which in order to represent a third party, you have to be a licensed attorney," William Jeffs said. He is being represented in the wrongful death case by his brother, Robert Jeffs.
"It was an interesting answer to me," William Jeffs said of Tamara Ragsdale's filing. "There were a couple of interesting things she said. Our answer just goes in and says, 'You don't have the right to file."'David Ragsdale has been in the Utah County Jail ever since he turned himself in to police after the shooting. He is proceeding to trial in his felony criminal case, having pleaded not guilty.