Bel Air shooting death

Robert Conley Richardson III, 16, of Bel Air, has been charged as an adult with murder 1st degree, murder 2nd degree and use of a firearm in the commission of a fellony crime of violence in connection with the death of his father. A District Court Judge ordered Richardson held in jail on no bail Wednesday. (Harford County Sheriff's Office, Homestead Publishing / January 12, 2012)

As Robert C. Richardson III, the 16-year-old Bel Air boy police say confessed to murdering his father, sits in the Harford County Detention Center this weekend awaiting a preliminary hearing in the case Tuesday morning, investigators and prosecutors have begun working on finding the motive for the killing.

The case is so high profile that Harford County's chief prosecutor says he'll personally direct the state's case against the teenager.

The teen, who has been charged as an adult with first degree murder in connection with the shooting death of his father, Robert C. Richardson Jr., 58, is being held in isolation at the Harford County Detention Center in Bel Air, where he is under constant watch, according to a spokesperson for the Harford County Sheriff's Office.

Harford County State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly said Thursday he will be the lead prosecutor in the case. Cassilly said his office is working on the investigation, but does not yet have anything new, including a motive.


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Cassilly, Harford's top prosecutor since 1983, previously won a conviction against an 18-year-old Bel Air area teen, Timothy Scott Sherman, who was accused of shooting his parents to death with shotgun blasts as they slept in their bed in 1987. Sherman, who denied the killings, was sentenced to two life terms. Sherman later sought and received a sentence modification, over Cassilly's strong objections, after confessing to the killings. He is serving a 40-year term at the Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, according to the online state inmate registry.

Cassilly said Thursday he considers every case to be different and declined to make any comparisons between the Richardson and Sherman cases.

Prosecutors plan to have a briefing with police, Cassilly said.

"Eventually we'll end up getting together with the police," he said, "but everything's been happening so quickly here."

Cassilly said his office is getting ready for a preliminary hearing Tuesday at 11 a.m. in Harford County District Court, which is to determine if the state has sufficient evidence to move forward with trial.

As for a motive, Cassilly said he wasn't sure that anyone has a "clear insight" on it.

Neighbors and relatives think the motive might have been continuing abuse that led the boy to snap, several told reporters for The Baltimore Sun this week.

Or, the motive might be cryptically hidden in the teen's Facebook page, which is private except for this statement that can be seen by anyone: "im a juggalo and thats all you really need to know."

In a 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment of Emerging Trends report, the FBI classified "juggalos" as a "loosely-organized hybrid gang" that is "rapidly expanding into many U.S. communities." The report also identified "juggalos" as fans of the musical group Insane Clown Posse.

Police say the younger Richardson, who lived with his father, stepmother and stepsister in of the 800 block of Moores Mill Road in Bel Air, shot and killed his father late Monday night and later led police on a chase that ended with the boy crashing his vehicle into a block wall next to a Bel Air church early Tuesday morning. He was arrested at the crash scene.

The victim's body was found partially submerged in a pond behind a home in Aberdeen owned by a relative of the Richardson family, according to police.

Richardson was charged as an adult Tuesday with first- and second-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime. He admitted to police that he shot and killed Robert C. Richardson Jr., according to charging documents.

Bail denied

The teen appeared via closed circuit television from the detention center before District Court Judge John L. Dunnigan for a bail review hearing in Bel Air Wednesday afternoon, where the judge ordered that he continued to be held without bail.

During the bail hearing, Public Defender Lynne McChrystal said Robert C. Richardson III is a ninth grade student at C. Milton Wright High School near Bel Air and has lived in Harford County his entire life. She requested reasonable bail for him.

Assistant State's Attorney Alison Carver asked for him to be held without bail, calling the charges "extremely serious," and mentioning that he has two pending juvenile charges for breaking and entering and drug possession.