We are raising money for the post conviction relief of Robert (Bob) Richardson.
On Jan 9, 2012, Bob shot and killed his father, Robert Richardson, Jr. (58). He had just learned that he would not be allowed to leave the family home, where his father had abused and tortured him for years. Bob had earlier been told that he would be allowed to leave and go live with family members, but his father cruelly denied him this hope, once they were home and alone. Bob was driven to desperation by years of abuse and neglect at the hands of his father, some of which may have been witnessed by friends and family. The withdrawal of this last hope of escape was more than he could take.
Bob's mother had passed away from cancer when he was only 10, and after that, the abuse by his father escalated. Bob was often seen with bruises, and wearing clothing that was dirty and worn. He often went without food. The level of abuse was horrific, and left the boy in fear for his life. On more than one occasion, Bob believed that his father tried to kill him, and he desperately tried to escape by running away, but the police always found him and returned him to his abuser.
Bob's case was initially handled by an attorney, Marc Snyder, who agreed to take the case pro bono. Mr. Snyder requested a two month delay in the trial date, when a second attorney joined his team, but after almost a year, Mr. Snyder determined that he would be unable to continue to represent Bob, due to financial considerations, and he handed the case to the State's Public Defender's Office, This resulted in another significant delay. In all, it took 2 years for Bob's case to be brought to court.
Bob is known to be a great friend; he is the person that other kids went to when they needed advice or had a problem, He continues to do this, even from his prison cell. We know he is not evil or malicious, and would not willfully harm anyone, if there were a way to avoid it. We know that the family home was frequented by drug abusers, and there are reports of overdoses taking place in the home, while Bob was present. We know that the police were called to the home often, and we know that some of those calls were placed by neighbors who were concerned about Bob's safety. We also know that Child Protective Services claim that no reports were ever made to that agency, and that Bob was never on their radar.
Bob's story is one of survival. He survived the long illness and eventual death of his mother when he was only 10 years old, as well as the subsequent loss of much of his support system, as those supports were systematically cut off from the young boy by his father. He survived years of abuse and horror, while living with a man who was known to abuse drugs and alcohol. He survived 10 months in isolation (24 hour lockdown) and more than a year of segregation (23 hour lockdown) within an adult jail setting, denied any form of counseling, education, or rehabilitation. And somehow, through all of this, he remains positive, although it is difficult to imagine how that could be.
This is also a story of a broken "justice" system - a system in which the State's attorney would publicly speak out against this child, without knowing the circumstances surrounding the boy or the reasons behind his actions. This system would then ignore its own failings in its inability to help this child before that fateful day, and then charge him with first degree murder, and toss him into the adult system, hoping to throw him away for the rest of his life. And this system would then place him into an adult jail, pending trial, as if he had already been tried and convicted. And then, in order to ensure his safety within that facility, the system would put him in isolation and then segregation for close to 2 years before he even goes to trial, conditions which are well know to cause significant psychological damage. This isolation eventually led to a desperate need to escape the confines of his incarceration in the jail, and weighed heavily into Bob's decision to take a plea deal.
Following the plea deal, during which Bob pleaded guilty to manslaughter and a gun charge, the "justice" system continued its abuse of Bob by ignoring the court recommendation, which was part of that plea deal, that
Bob serve his sentence in the Youthful Offender program at Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Maryland. In this program, Bob would finally be able to receive the counseling, education, and rehabilitation that he so desperately wants and deserves. Instead, the DOC has sent Bob to an adult prison in Hagerstown, MD, where he has been placed into general population. Although they have said this is a temporary move, and that Bob will eventually be sent to Patuxent, there are no guarantees, and it is impossible to understand why he was sent to Hagerstown at all. This seems to be one more act of cruelty towards Bob, who has grown to be a young man in MD jails and prisons. At this time, there does not appear to be a plan to move him to the Youthful Offender program at Patuxent, but Bob has worked hard at Hagerstown, and is well on his way to earning his GED (with outstanding grades).
But finally, this is a story about love. Bob's unending capacity for love has amazed so many of us. In spite of the hand that has been dealt to him, he continues to love his friends and family fiercely and without regret. He has somehow remained positive throughout his ordeal, although it's difficult to understand how that could be possible. But this is also a story of how strangers, from all over the world and from all walks of life, have come together to love a boy that they have never met - a boy that has not known this type of unconditional love for a very long time.
All monies collected will be used directly for Bob's post conviction relief. We have identified a highly qualified lawyer, who has agreed to take on this effort, and would attempt to have Bob exonerated. We believe that this would be justice, as Bob has already spent too much time in hell, both before and after the death of his father.
We are very grateful for your support. Please follow us at https://www.facebook.com/Rally4Robert/info