NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – A man convicted of brutally slaying his wife and three of her children took the stand for the first time Tuesday.
For a month, John Ragin has listened to evidence used to prove his guilt in the quadruple murder, evidence convincing a jury he stabbed Crystal Ragin and her children a total of 74 times before pouring gasoline on their bodies and burning one of the victims. But it was in the minutes before a jury would begin deciding his punishment for killing them that he spoke to the court.
38-year-old Ragin said he needed to speak for himself, then spoke for 45 minutes.
“I did not kill my family, and I am innocent,” Ragin said on the stand. He told jurors he knows they saw the evidence, but said when he left his home on Aug. 18, “my family was alive.”
Additionally, he claimed there were pieces of evidence the jurors were not allowed to see.
“I know what happened that night. I lost my family and the reason why I lost my family is I left home,” he said. He told jurors he knew what really happened, but never expounded on his claim.
On cross examination, the prosecution made him read two letters he wrote to another woman professing his love. He said he and the woman were just friends.
Ragin also asked a judge to dismiss his attorneys so he could represent himself, but that request was denied.
Last week, Ragin was convicted of three counts capital murder and one count second-degree murder as well as three counts unlawful stabbing and one count of arson. He faces the death penalty.
During closing arguments on Tuesday, the prosecution argued for the death penalty, citing the violent nature of the crimes. The defense argued for a life sentence, pointing to the fact that Ragin has a surviving son.
The jury received the case just before 4 p.m. Tuesday, following closing arguments, and deliberated for just under an hour. The jury will return at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday.
Stay with WAVY.com for more on this developing story.