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Teen accused of killing father unfairly treated

HomicideJustice System

It would be refreshing if one of our esteemed Maryland criminal defense attorneys qualified to win or obtain a proper sentence would step in and replace the court-appointed public defender representing Robert Richardson III, the Bel Air 17-year-old who allegedly killed his father one year ago.

While the average reader of this paper would not have reason to know it, this state contains far fewer than 20 attorneys whom a person with means would hire to defend a case such as this — one that requires the expert testimony of a top forensic psychiatrist (of which this state has maybe three), national experts on patricide (of which there are only two), and the help of a very good investigator. Presently, this kid is not only getting none of that, but it appears he has been kept virtually isolated (which maybe is a good thing) for more than 12 months and deprived of proper visitations with his attorney.

This writer casts no rock at the Maryland Public Defender's Office nor their hard-working assistant public defenders, but the alleged crime at issue in this case is very rare, largely misunderstood and subject to great prejudice by society and those in the criminal justice industry. But a large stone should be cast at our state bar members, few of whom meet their pro bono requirements in full (The Sun should report on that someday), for letting this case lie for a year with no prominent attorney stepping up. Without such help, the alleged killer, who is also a victim, has zero chance. When the alleged killer's community — a law and order community no less — is holding a rally for this poor kid who is wildly in over his head, that should tell a prospective top lawyer something. Guilt may not be at issue in this case, but mitigation is.

Justice could be very obtainable, especially if this case can be returned to a juvenile court where it belongs.

William C. Bond, Baltimore

The writer was adjudicated a delinquent as a juvenile in the death of his father in Ohio in 1981. He served his sentence at the Sheppard & Enoch Pratt Hospital and later wrote a book about his experience.

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