Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Death Penalty for Inmate Killer?

This is the first time I've ever heard of such a thing:

A prisoner who stabbed and strangled his cellmate because he was a child molester is "a stone-cold killer" who should receive the death penalty, a federal prosecutor told jurors Tuesday.

Because Brian Richardson is already serving the equivalent of a life sentence for a series of armed robberies, a sentence of life without parole is "simply no punishment," Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill McKinnon said during closing arguments of a six-week trial.

A month ago, the jury convicted Richardson of murdering his cellmate in the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta in July 2007. Prosecutors said Richardson, 48, killed 60-year-old Steven Obara because he was a child molester. Obara, of Connecticut, was serving a 10-year sentence for child pornography and molestation.

Over the past four weeks, the jury has since been hearing evidence and testimony during the sentencing phase of the trial. After receiving instructions from the judge, the jury was to begin deliberations Tuesday afternoon.

Interesting. In my long years of studying the death penalty, I'm not aware of any inmate who has gone to death row, federal or state level, for killing another inmate. I think it would be unprecedented, and regardless of the outcome, the four-week sentencing trial has got to be some kind of record for an inmate accused of such a crime.

In most states, the killing of incarcerated child molester by another inmate would merely be recorded as a "savings." It's an interesting message the Feds seem to be sending here: that in federal prisons anyway, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law possible, even if the inmate you kill was old short eyes.

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