Derrick Richardson, 45, says he was wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder in 1992. He testified in Judge Barry Steelman’s courtroom at a post-conviction hearing on Monday.
Police reports from Dec. 8, 1991, describe the death of Louie F. Dwight, 39, who was found in his truck at 1903 Roanoke Ave. They said he had suffered three gunshot wounds to his legs. He was transported to Erlanger Hospital, where he died.
Officers said that on Dec. 12, 1991, Richardson, at the time 20 years old, admitted to his involvement in the shooting and gave police additional suspects.
They said the defendant stated that he was armed with a .38 caliber revolver and shot the weapon twice.
Police also said that Richardson told them the shooting, which occurred at 1845 Heaton St., was the result of a robbery. The defendant said the victim was robbed of $15.
On Dec. 10, 1992, a sequestered jury found Richardson guilty of first-degree murder, resulting in a sentence of life imprisonment.
Richardson said Monday, however, that Lakeysha Davis, a crucial witness during his trial, had repeatedly lied on the stand. He said Ms. Davis, who during the trial claimed to have been on her front porch at the time of the murder, observing Richardson take the victim’s wallet and shoot his legs, was inside her house. He said she was “standing at the top of the stairs with her child,” when he ran inside after the shooting.
Richardson had three co-defendants in the case: Stanley D. Gillespie, 24 in 1991; Gregory A. Strong, 25 in 1991; and Calvin L. Johnson, 19 in 1991.
Defense attorney Zachary Newman said two of the co-defendants pled guilty to second-degree murder, and one received an eight-year probation sentence.
Richardson said Ms. Davis was the corroborating witness for Johnson during his trial. He said Johnson “testified against (him) and got a deal.” He pointed out that their stories on the stand didn’t match because Ms. Davis “had been lying the whole time.” For instance, while Johnson had told jurors he was carrying an AK-47 during the slaying, Ms. Davis had said he had had no gun at all, Richardson stated.
“The reason I know she lying is because I hadn’t shot nobody,” said the defendant. “I hadn’t planned no robbery, period.”
He said he didn’t understand how he had been “convicted of federal murder,” calling the “25 years of (his) life” he has been in prison “an injustice.”
“If I’d of shot him I would of took them 20 years they offered me 25 years ago,” he said.
Attorney Newman said there were witnesses who were never spoken to that would testify to different things than what was heard during the 1992 trial.
A man who grew up in the same area as Richardson testified on Monday that he was present at the time of the shooting and had a view of Ms. Davis’s porch. He said the witness was not outside when shots were fired. He said Johnson and Gillespie were the ones who were shooting.
When prosecutor Lance Pope asked the witness about his whereabouts during the 1992 trial, he said, “At that time I was doing my own dirt and courthouse was the last place I wanted to be.”
He said he had agreed to be in court on Monday because he had done time himself and didn’t like seeing others do time “for something that they did not do.”
Richardson’s younger brother, Tony Richardson, also testified that Ms. Davis was not on the porch at the time of the shooting. He said that during the trial in 1992 he was supposed to be a witness, but was never called. He said he had met with his brother’s attorney multiple times before the trial.
“I waited outside the courtroom the whole court proceedings,” he said. “I wanted my opportunity, my chance to speak.”
The defendant’s mother, Ernestine Freeman, said she had spoken to Ms. Davis.
“I wanted to know the truth. She told me she did not see anything. She was under the bed with her two-month-old son,” she said. “(Ms. Davis) said she had lied, she was forced.”
Ms. Freeman said Ms. Davis had told her that her son’s father, Calvin Johnson, had forced her to lie.
Prosecutor Pope spoke to Investigator Tamika Bruce, who followed up on the possibility that Ms. Davis’s testimony had recently changed.
“When I went out and met with her, I just asked her if her original testimony was any different than what she originally said,” stated Investigator Bruce. “She just stated, ‘My testimony is the same. Nothing has changed at all,’ and she went into explaining the threats that she had received.”
Prosecutor Pope said the new information Richardson had provided in his case was not particularly new, at all, and that the defendant has always had a problem with Ms. Davis’s testimony. He read a long list to the court of denied motions for new trials, denied post-conviction petitions, and denied appeals, all made since 1992.
“I don’t believe that it is evidence that in any light would have caused a different outcome in this trial,” prosecutor Pope said. “Many of these hearings have been the same as we’ve gone through this process.”
Judge Steelman allowed attorney Newman more time to contact another witness who had not appeared in court on Monday.