Retired Air Force Major Thomas Maffei’s attorney argued at trial that in addition to his client suffering from diagnosed PTSD, panic disorder, and major depression, he was recently tormented by severe insomnia and just returned from the VA clinic the day he shot his estranged wife and ex-father-in-law in front of their screaming four year old son.
His lawyer went on to say that on the day of the shooting Maffei was exceedingly anxious and made the trip to the VA clinic to have his medications adjusted. The clinic added a high dosage of Oxycodone to the opiates, other pain medications and added a new prescription.
Maffei was charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed burglary, two counts of false imprisonment and child abuse.
Psychiatrist, David Kramer who was called to speak on behalf of the defense testified that he had “…in his system, a significant amount of opiate, pain medication and a new prescription for clonazepam that had been prescribed hours before,” Kramer had not treated the defendant but only reviewed his medical history.
But Katherine Ranta, Maffei’s now ex-wife was prepared to tell the jury a disturbing story four years after the incident occurred when just five hours after opening statements a Broward County judge declared a mistrial last November.
The judge had received four written questions from jurors, two of them indicating that they had been discussing the case amongst themselves, which is strictly forbidden until all testimony is heard, evidence presented, instructions are specified by the judge and deliberations begin.
When proceedings resumed in a new trial this February Ms. Ranta told a story of a deteriorating relationship that led up to a night of terror preceded by close to two years of physical, and mental torture which was escalating at a rapid pace.
She told the jury that prior to the night of the shooting she was two years into a very combative pending divorce, doing her best to provide a safe and stable environment for her son.
She said an earlier domestic violence incident was the reason she left her husband, taking her son William with her. She was granted a restraining order against her husband and the police arrested him when he violated it. At that time a veritable arsenal of guns was confiscated from his residence and he lost his parental rights to his son a short time later.
Leading up to the night of the shooting she said her father, Robert Ranta was visiting when her estranged husband showed up unannounced at her Coral Springs apartment. When he tried to forcibly enter her home, she and her father blocked and held the door closed until Mr. Maffei used his gun to shoot through the midpoint of the door gaining access. He continued shooting as he entered the apartment striking Katherine in the hand and chest. Her father was hit in the side of his body and left arm. It’s not known if the gunfire through the door or the shots once he entered or a combination of the two were responsible for all of their injuries. Their son, who was four years old at the time, was not injured but he witnessed the entire incident. She testified that her son screamed “Don’t do it! Don’t shoot Mommy!”
Once Mr. Maffei entered the house he appeared to wander around aimlessly. Ms. Ranta exited the apartment and fell to the ground as she was on the phone with police emergency (911). Her father stumbled out a few moments later holding his grandson and fell to the ground beside her.
When police arrived they were able to arrest Mr. Maffei without further incident.
Katherine and her father were taken by helicopter to Broward Health North, where Ms. Ranta had to undergo a blood transfusion as her father was taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
At trial, Maffei’s defense team argued that he shouldn’t be convicted for the attempted murder charges due to the fact that if he wanted to kill Katherine and her father, he could have and cited the amount of time their defendant was at the apartment before police arrived.
However, prosecutors were adamant that the location of the gunshots, in the center of the door clearly demonstrated that Maffei wasn’t just trying to scare or hurt them; killing the victims was his ultimate intention.
The jury found Maffei guilty and sentenced him to sixty years in prison for the attempted murder of his ex-wife and sixty years in prison for the attempted murder of her father. Each sentence has a minimum mandatory sentence of twenty-five years meaning Maffei will have to serve at least fifty years in prison before he’s eligible for any consideration. This year (2017) at the time of his sentencing, he was forty-nine years old.
You can do the math.
To view Katherine Ranta’s entire story in her own words, click here to read her interview on the “Moms Demand Action” Website.
She has since become an anti-gun advocate for Survivor Inspired Speak Up – (SISU) and created a Facebook Page devoted to it. The top image which is somewhat cut off by the layout of that page can be seen in full by clicking here.
I contacted Ms. Ranta through her Facebook Page to see if she wanted to add anything to the post in her own words.
She replied with the below addition:
“I’d like to vote that one of Maffei’s defense lawyers made references in opening and closing statement about Maffei’s PTSD and physical injuries being a result of a Humvee explosion in Iraq. That’s an outright lie. Maffei never deployed to Iraq and was never in an explosion. His physical injuries were from a motorcycle accident in 2007 in Washington DC. I know this because I was at the hospital with him. Also, the drugs he took were drugs he’d been abusing since he was prescribed them after the accident. None were new. He’d been abusing pain pills for 5 years at the time of the shooting.
Thankfully the jury didn’t buy the lies!”
Michael Cohen is a Fort Lauderdale based criminal defense attorney with close to twenty years of experience defending clients in the private sector. He previously worked as an Assistant United States Attorney as well as maintaining other prosecutorial duties for the United States Government as well as being an Assistant State Prosecutor for the State of Florida.