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Annamarie Rittman, a 46-year-old employee at the Lowe’s Store in Altoona, Iowa, was struck down by a pickup that swerved into her on December 27, 2005. The mother of three was walking through the store’s parking lot just before 5:30 a.m. when video cameras captured on tape a red four-door Ford pickup truck running her down and hitting her from behind.
Rittman later died at a local hospital.
Justin Andrew Pollard, a U.S. Army reservist, was charged with first-degree murder in Rittman’s hit-and-run homicide after police matched video footage and stickers on the back window of Pollard’s truck to the vehicle seen in the video. Pollard had clocked into work shortly after the hit-and-run.
Pollard, an Iraq War veteran who served with the U.S. Army Reserve 339th Military Police company based in Davenport, had married Emily White the summer before the murder, and the couple’s daughter was born just weeks before Rittman’s murder.
The murder charges were dropped in 2007 after a judge ruled the video inadmissible because it played faster than real time. Charges were refiled in 2009 after experts found a way to slow the video.
Evidence presented at Pollard’s trial showed not only his truck’s dented bumper, but stickers on the back window similar to those seen on the truck in the videotape. Defense attorney Alfredo Parrish argued that no fibers, human tissue or DNA linking Pollard to Rittman were found in the truck during the original investigation.
Pollard’s wife said he was never at the accident scene, though Pollard told officials he’d clocked into work at 5:31 a.m., approximately six minutes after Annamarie was run down.
Special Agent John Quinn of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said Pollard intentionally hit the woman and then left the scene. Authorities, who examined video footage from three different stores, claimed Pollard used his truck as a weapon to kill Rittman as she walked into work.
Throughout the trial, Parrish spoke extensively about Pollard’s two tours in Iraq and his role as a new husband and father.
Polk County jurors acquitted Pollard of Rittman’s murder in September 2010. KCCI raw video footage showed a smiling Pollard leaving the Polk County courthouse after the verdict, busily texting on his cell phone and using few words to respond to KCCI’s questions.
In May 2012, Pollard filed a lawsuit against the city of Altoona, two Altoona police officials and a video production company. The lawsuit sought $14 million in damages and claimed malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and negligence.
On Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, media reports said a settlement had been reached between the parties, but no settlement details were released.
Officials stand behind the evidence they had against Pollard, and are not actively seeking any other suspects in Rittman’s murder. Pollard cannot be tried again due to Double Jeopardy laws.
Annamarie Rittman’s murder remains an open case, but in name only.
Annamarie Rittman was born March 30, 1959. She was survived by her husband, Brian, and the couple’s three children.
She was buried at the New Altoona Cemetery in Altoona, Polk County, Iowa.
Jury: Pollard Not Guilty – from KCCI TV
Pollard Verdict: More Reaction – from KCCI TV