The Bel Air teen charged with killing his father appeared at a hearing today at the Harford County Courthouse, where supporters also staged a rally on his behalf.
According to police, Robert (Bob) C. Richardson, 17, shot his father at their Bel Air home last January before dumping the body in an Aberdeen pond and leading officers on a chase through residential portions of Bel Air. The chase ended when Richardson crashed the family truck in the parking lot of the Bel Air United Methodist Church and fled on foot to a nearby community, where he was taken into custody.
Richardson admitted killing his father, Robert C. Richardson Jr., 58, and told investigators that they would find the elder Richardson’s body in an Aberdeen pond on property owned by a relative. Police found the body laying on the edge of the pond, partially submerged.
Richardson was 16 years old when he was charged as an adult with first- and second-degree murder and the use of a handgun in the commission of a felony. He is currently being held in the Harford County Detention Center pending trial.
Richardson appeared in the Bel Air courtroom Wednesday for a brief hearing related to the manner of his visits with defense attorneys. Following the hearing, County Attorney Rob McCord, representing the county detention center, said that attorneys on all sides had reached an agreement allowing defense attorneys to meet face to face with Richardson, rather than be separated from him by a customary glass partition.
Richardson’s hearing was attended by approximately 30 supporters, some of whom gasped when he entered the courtroom in shackles and a grey striped prison uniform. Following the hearing, several supporters were in tears.
“He looked drained… He looks like a baby” said Dottie Kilduff, who attended both the outside rally and the hearing in the courtroom. Kilduff said that she lived with Richardson and his father for a time after Bob’s mother died of cancer. She said she witnessed verbal abuse by the father toward the son, and believed it got worse when she left. “I was a Band-Aid,” she said.
Richardson’s supporters say he was driven to the crime by years of neglect and abuse by his father. Eileen Siple and her daughter Hannah maintain a Facebook page entitled “Free Robert (Bob) Richardson” and helped organize the rally. Siple explained the group’s position in a recent email to The Dagger:
“It continues to be our contention that Bob was horribly abused by his father, and that he was unable to obtain the help that he needed, prior to this tragic event. While we do not condone killing, it is our belief that this tragedy would not have occurred, if “the system” had worked as it should have. As adults, it is our job to look out for the children, and somehow this boy was overlooked.
As a group, we have continued to support Bob during the past year. We regret that we did not know of Bob’s plight prior to January of last year. While we were unable to help him during those years, we have come forward to help him since the tragedy occurred. We regret that he is charged as an adult, as we believe his case belongs in the juvenile courts, and we are horrified by the situations he has had to endure since his arrest, i.e. 10 months of segregation within the Harford County Detention Center, simply because the facility is not set up to handle juveniles.”
Siple later said that Richardson was isolated for his own safety until he turned 17. Now, she said, he is allowed time outside his cell and calls her house every day. He talks mostly with her daughter, she said, who was a friend when Richardson attended C. Milton Wright High School before his arrest. Siple said the two teenagers talk, laugh and listen to music together on speakerphone. “You would never guess that one of them was calling from a jail cell,” she said.
Richardson’s trial is set for May 14th.
Dagger contributor Todd Holden was also at the hearing and reported on the scene:
There was a quiet dignity about him as he walked shackled and in prison stripes into Judge Waldron’s courtroom at 4:20 p/m Wednesday….just a little guy, short hair and fear all over his face…fear and bewilderment….stumbling over leg irons and chains…
The hearing was about pre-trial motions…he sat quietly as his two attorneys asked the prosecuting attorneys that their line of communication be kept ‘fluid’ for the preparation of their defense….Judge Waldron agreed once the States Attorney team concurred. It was all very civil…
As I mingled with the folks who rallied an hour earlier for young Bob Richardson III, I asked others if they ever knew or bowled or watched a football game with the senior, now deceased Bob Richardson, Jr.
No one said they even knew him…no one was there to counter the children who went to school with the accused, or who rode the bus with him when his face showed the signs of abuse…or his clothes didn’t fit…
No one among the half filled main courtroom uttered a word against the accused…not one person that I came into contact with said they were sorry not for the accused but for the deceased…
The entire proceeding lasted less than 10 minutes…I was sitting with Sheriff Jesse Bane, was asked by the SA office to be present…
Judge Waldron dismissed the hearing and a young boy struggled to maintain his balance in the shackles and stutter-stepped across the carpeted floor of the courtroom, slowly and assisted by two deputies. He disappeared out the chambers door, and folks just spoke to one another of when was the last time they saw him…on the bus, in class…mothers mentioned they had spoken with him days before the shooting…
Rather than anger they were quietly consoling one another in the name of a boy who now stands accused of murdering his father…and the question remains, what pushed him to kill?
All that is going on in a young boy’s head…and we can only wonder at the toll it will take on him as time passes into years…and what the outcome will be.
And what will become of Bob as he reaches adulthood? Right now he doesn’t know what or where that will be….for certain, he has replayed that last evening with his father…over and over…till it rings in his ears as he passes yet another day in jail…waiting for a trial that could bring freedom…and closure…or bring a prison term…a different sort of closure…
We cannot know the inside of this boy’s head…only know from what we see in glimpses in a crowded courtroom…only he will know the unspoken truth between him and his father.