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Robert Richardson III Pleads Guilty to Shooting Father, Dumping Body

Supporters of the teen say he was the victim of repeated domestic abuse.

Robert Richardson's mug shot after the Jan. 9, 2012, death of his father. (Credit: Harford County Sheriff's Office)
Robert Richardson's mug shot after the Jan. 9, 2012, death of his father. (Credit: Harford County Sheriff's Office)

A Bel Air teen indicted on murder charges in the shooting death of his father pleaded guilty Wednesday in Harford County Circuit Court to manslaughter and using a firearm to commit a felony.

As a result, Robert Richardson, III, 18, was sentenced to 30 years in jail with all but 18 years suspended, according to a statement from Harford County State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly.

Police said Richardson confessed to killing his father—Robert Richardson Jr., 58—at his home in the 800 block of Moores Mill Road on Jan. 9, 2012.

"...[Robert Richardson III's] grandmother told the court that she lost both her son and her grandson that day, and that her son’s life was not his to take," the state's attorney reported Wednesday.

The teen's sister called 911 on Jan. 9, 2012, and said her brother shot their father, according to the Harford County Sheriff's Office, which told Patch at the time there was blood on the ground when police arrived.

According to the statement of facts read in court Wednesday, Richardson "took a swig of rum, smoked some pot and shot his father in the back of the head," WJZ reported.

Then the teen picked up two friends who returned to the house with him to pack the father up in a bed sheet before dumping the body in a pond near a relative's home in Aberdeen, according to The Dagger.

Supporters of the Bel Air teen, who attended C. Milton Wright, said that he had been "driven to insanity" by domestic abuse. Attorneys for both Richardson and the state said that community members knew Richardson was abused, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Attorneys on both sides also said that stemming from the abuse, the teen suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and cannabis use disorder, The Dagger reported.

"The system is in place to help teenagers like Richardson if someone has the courage to speak out," Cassilly said.

"This was a terrible tragedy that did not have to take place," Diane Adkins Tobin, deputy state's attorney, said in a prepared statement. "There are people who were aware of his situation but did nothing and did not notify authorities."

A message on the Facebook page "Free Robert Richardson III" Wednesday night reinforced the message that people need to report domestic incidents: "...it is tragic that so many people knew of the ongoing serious abuse that was taking place in that home, and that [Department of Social Services] only received one phone call regarding the abuse. I pray that our community has learned a lesson from this tragedy, and that no other child will ever have to suffer in the way that Bob suffered."

The court has recommended that Richardson serve his sentence in the Youthful Offender Program at Patuxent Institute in Jessup, which helps provide services for people under 21 transitioning into adulthood.

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Debbie Amsl Rettberg January 15, 2014 at 10:00 PM
Everything about this just breaks my heart. I have kept this entire family in my prayers.
Robert January 16, 2014 at 11:34 PM
he should have held out for a better deal. only takes one person to lock up a jury and cause a mistrial. i would have put the case in front of a jury, explain the abuse this poor boy went through at the hands of his father, and all you would need is one person out of 12 who feels sorry for the boy and he walks
Polly January 17, 2014 at 06:39 AM
Abuse has consequences. My heart breaks for this poor kid. Even 18 years is too long under these circumstances. I certainly do not condone taking another's life, but there are times it is understood. I'm disgusted with all those Monday morning quarterbacks that did NOTHING that could have prevented this. Shame on them. I pray he will exit prison before it's had a chance to make him a real criminal.
John W January 17, 2014 at 07:30 AM
For the uninformed. Even his own family said there was no abuse in the home, that he just didn't wish to live by his father's rules. I will go over to Bel Air Memorial Gardens today and lay some flowers on his dad's grave. The system failed the victim in this incident. This turd and his lawyers manipulated the system with the help of some libtards that keep saying he was abused when he was not. Here's hoping that before he gets out he meets "Bubba" inside and Bubba claims him for his own. Now THAT would be justice. I will grieve for and honor his dad, the real victim, let this flotsam just rot in jail.
Skye Anderson January 17, 2014 at 10:11 AM
Cannabis use disorder? That's a new one for me. DSS received a phone call regarding the abuse - what was done?
Polly January 17, 2014 at 10:24 AM
John W - I will tell you from personal experience I grew up in a horrendously abusive household. It was physical, verbal, mental and emotional and to this very day my mother's family and her friends deny it ever happened. Finally, when I was 15 and a runaway I met the most wonderful cop who believed me and could see the bruises and other physical signs. He was able to get me into a foster home that another cop had that very evening. That was 40 years ago and I've remembered him in my prayers ever since. So don't be so quick to dismiss his claims of abuse. Generally the family and friends of the abuser deny it happens to do otherwise would make them responsible. Neither of us knows whether it's true or not or to what extent, if any. Peace
Jeff January 17, 2014 at 11:14 AM
I am so sick and tired of everyone blaming there actions on abuse or there upbringing. He made the choice to pull the trigger, he made the choice to get high afterwards, he made the choice to dump the body, and he made the choice to run from the cops all night. Nobody else made the choices but him, now when it comes time to pay for his actions, it is, I was abused, I did drugs, my Dad was mean.... Whatever, 18 years for murder, only in Maryland! If the abuse was so bad, and he couldn't handle living there anymore, go to a teacher, and guidance counselor stop a cop on the street and tell them, don't shoot your parent, get high, and drive around all night and then when the police confront you run more!
Eileen Siple January 17, 2014 at 11:35 AM
For the uniformed (that would be you, John W). I'm not sure what a "libtard" is. I suspect that is a word that you have made up, a combination of the words "liberal" and "retard". I am going to take a few minutes out of my life to try and inform you about a few things: 1. The word "retard" is considered to be grossly outdated and derogatory. It is a hurtful word that ignorant people use to describe someone who is intellectually disabled. The fact that you would use this word so blithely says much about your personality, I think. 2. You say that his own family says that no abuse occurred. If you were at all educated on matters of parricide, you would know that this is not at all unusual. Families often deny that there was abuse, as that would make them somewhat culpable. At any rate, that would be an opinion, and not a fact. The FACT is that the prosecution in this case conceded that there was abuse, and that was read into the court record. It was agreed that Robert is a victim of severe and ongoing abuse. The murder charges were dropped, and the plea was offered, because the prosecutor stated that she was unable to prove that abuse did not occur. Excerpts of an extensive psychiatric evaluation, read into the court records, support this. At the end of the hearing, the prosecutor read a prepared statement, stating that this was a tragedy that did not need to occur - that there were many community and family members who were aware of this child's situation and did nothing to help him. And that is all I will say on the matter. I hope that I have helped to inform you. Respond if you would like, but I am done here. I have more productive things to do with my time. And to all of the people who have written positive and encouraging statements here, I thank you all. Please remember this boy in your prayers, as he begins his journey of healing. Thank you.
Jeff January 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM
Just remember, when he gets out of prison, he will still be only in his 30's and since he was so "abused" he will be in great shape to re-enter society. What he did was wrong, and I'm sure that the prosecutor thought to themselves all I need is one person that buys his "abuse" claims and he gets away with it. He can join the pen pal page that the young man in Cockeysville is on, the same person who killed his family, they both claim abuse, but neither can back it up.
Polly January 17, 2014 at 04:25 PM
@Eileen Siple - exactly! Of course there are those like John W & Jeff that are just not educated or informed enough to allow that there are actually some real cases of horrendous abuse. For the record Jeff, this one is already so damaged that he'll be in counseling probably for the rest of his life. I'm still dealing with those same issues and I'm almost 60. Unless you have lived it you can't know the effect these things have on every aspect of your life for a very long time. As for the other guy, whose name escapes me at this moment, is a whole different case. And he should be locked up for the rest of his life. I understand how it gets old when some blame their upbringing but, I'm smart enough to know that some times it's actually a fact. "neither can back it up" - abusers are very good at what they do and often present a different way when others are present and generally don't leave marks that would call attention to them. They abused are so afraid of retaliation if they do report it to a teacher or whoever and it gets back to the parent. It only causes them additional abuse. It's really sad when some aren't informed enough about a case to make an informed opinion. No compassion at all for the abused kids. smh

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