The murder conviction of a northeast Missouri man for the 2014 death of his wife has been upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Convicted killer Ricky Harding (photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Corrections}

The high court denied a motion for transfer, which means the conviction stands.

37-year-old Ricky Harding was convicted of second degree murder in December 2015, after a lengthy trial in Warren County Circuit Court. The trial was moved from Audrain to Warren County on a change of venue.

Audrain County Prosecutor Jacob Shellabarger notes the court has affirmed Harding’s conviction for murdering his wife in front of their children.

Prosecutors say Harding is a prior and persistent offender.

Prosecutors say Summer Hickman was shot to death on Memorial Day 2014 in a house near Mexico, Missouri.

Before his trial, Harding called Columbia television station KMIZ from jail to say that his wife shot herself that night, “in a freakish accident”. Prosecutors disagreed.

Prosecutors note the conviction was for felony murder, because Harding was a convicted felon who could not possess the gun that caused Hickman’s death.

Shellabarger has issued a statement, praising the ruling.

“The appellate court’s decision means criminal decisions have consequences,” Shellabarger says. “Ricky Harding’s decision to bring an illegal firearm into his home caused Summer’s death, and because he was a felon, the crime’s effect was amplified. A stolen 1911 model Colt .45 handgun, combined with domestic violence, led to an argument and a struggle over the gun that led to the fatal shot. After the shot tore through her body, Ricky left her to bleed to death as her children watched and waited in the dark for help to arrive. This cowardly action, taken because Ricky knew he was a felon and couldn’t possess the gun in the first place, was appalling and traumatic. The shock from watching their mother bleed to death as their father ran away shook these children to their core.”

Harding is currently incarcerated at the maximum-security Jefferson City Correctional Center, serving a 30-year sentence for second degree murder.

Shellabarger also praises the Audrain County Sheriff’s Department, the Little Dixie Fire Protection District, the Audrain Ambulance District, SSM St. Mary’s Audrain, the Rainbow House Child Advocacy Center in Columbia, Bikers Against Child Abuse and the Southside Christian Church.