February 26, 2010 11:06:00 AM
COLUMBUS -- Not buying that he "did not mean" to beat a man with a baseball bat and rob him to buy guns and cocaine, a Lowndes County jury deliberated less than an hour before finding Michael Shane Richardson guilty of capital murder and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
The verdict was read by Lowndes County Circuit Clerk Mahala Salazar at 5:05 p.m. No reaction was shown by Richardson, who had taken the stand earlier in his defense.
The penalty phase of the trial was scheduled to begin this morning in the main courtroom of the Lowndes County Courthouse.
Richardson, 30, of 126 Matson Road, had admitted to the 2006 baseball-bat beating and robbery of 57-year-old Harvey J. Evans.
Authorities report Evans died in January 2007 from injuries sustained from Richardson''s Sept. 19, 2006 baseball bat blow to the head.
The jury was sent to the jury room at 4:10 p.m. following closing statements by defense attorney Andre'' de Gruy of Jackson, who handles cases for indigent clients, and Rhonda Hayes-Ellis of the Lowndes County District Attorney''s office, who prosecuted the case for the state.
In her closing statement, Hayes-Ellis said Richardson struck Harvey Evans with a baseball bat that Evans gave Richardson for his protection, then proceeded to take Evans'' wallet to buy cocaine and two guns. She mentioned Richardson had a previous charge against him for aggravated assault.
"Harvey Evans was doing fine and was going about his daily life on Sept. 9, 2006. He had a girlfriend who loved him, and Michael Shane Richardson decided he wanted money to buy cocaine and guns," she said.
She asked the jury to perform according to its oath and duty, and find Richardson guilty of capital murder and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
De Gruy said in his closing statement that his client tried to explain to the jurors what he did to Evans, and how concerned he was about Evans.
"You were able to watch him. The idea to rob Evans and cause harm was not an idea he came up with by himself, he had help," he said.
Hayes-Ellis came back with a rebuttal, asking the jury not to base their work on emotions and sympathy for the defendant.
"Defense counsel said Richardson did not mean to kill Harvey Evans, that someone else planned it, though it was not specified who the. Who in this world goes to their friend''s house with a bat in their hand?" she said.
Richardson was one of two witnesses called by the defense. He said he "did not mean" to hit Evans.
He was asked by Hayes-Ellis during cross examination if on Sept., 20, he called 911 to turn himself in to authorities.
"I understand that is what happened," he said.
"You did it (hit Evans with a bat) did you not?" Hayes-Ellis asked.
"Yes ma''am, I did," Richardson said.
The first witness called by the defense was Barbara Tenney, who has been incarcerated in the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center on a driving under the influence charge.
She testified that she knew Jones, that the two of them had been seeing each other. She said she and Jones had been together during the morning of Sept. 19 at a trailer belonging to Robert Spencer, and knew that Richardson lived in a trailer at the Lakeview Trailer Park.
She said she and Richardson had gone to Alabama that day, and they were smoking crack cocaine on the way back.
The state called only two witnesses Thursday. Dr. Steven Hayne, a forensic pathologist, testified the cause of Evan''s death was blunt force trauma to the head.
In photos presented by the state as evidence, Hayne showed the area of the brain where Evans suffered injuries as a result of being struck.
Tony Cooper, a detective with the Lowndes County Sheriff''s Department, was also called to testify on behalf of the state.
He testified that Richardson was originally charged with armed robbery and aggravated assault, but after Evans'' death, the charges were upgraded to capital murder.
Thursday concluded two days of testimony by witnesses for both the prosecution and defense. On Wednesday, the state''s first witness was Sherie Halvorson, Evans'' girlfriend.
She testified that Richardson came to the mobile home she shared with Evans and that she heard Evans yell and rushed into a room to find him lying on the floor.
Allen Baswell is a former staff reporter for The Dispatch
Buddie commented at 2/27/2010 9:21:00 AM:
Let us all hope that the child pornography collector, Robert "Butch" Triplett, gets to share a jail cell with Michael Richardson and his baseball bat!
skintback commented at 2/27/2010 9:42:00 AM:
everybody needs drugs and guns so turn him loose he will probably never misbehave again im sure!!!
MDOC commented at 2/27/2010 12:13:00 PM:
Maybe he can get a gun and some dope when we give him his weekend pass. That shouldn't be too long down the road.
1. Wife, mother-in-law of missing New Hope man charged with murder COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY