An online community has formed to support a Bel Air teenager who is charged in the shooting death of his father.
A Facebook page, local fundraiser and donation account have all been set up in support of Robert Richardson III, 16, who was charged as an adult in early January with first- and second-degree murder and the use of a firearm in a felony violent crime.
Charging documents and police statements allege Richardson shot his father to death at their Bel Air home and then dumped the body in a pond near Aberdeen.
Since his arrest, two Facebook groups formed in reaction to the situation, although one site opposing the teenager has since closed.
The "Free Robert (Bob) Richardson III" page had 742 likes as of 5 p.m. Tuesday and members were discussing a "rally" to raise money to help the teenager.
A website was also set up to collect donations for Richardson to hire a private attorney, according to the Facebook page, and as of Monday afternoon had collected $3,460. Another Facebook page was set for the rally, which is scheduled for Feb. 7 at MacGregor's Restaurant in Havre de Grace and had 14 "guests" who had RSVP'd as of Tuesday.
Visitors to the restaurant between 4 and 8 p.m. Feb. 7 can tell the hostess or waitress they are supporting Richardson and 20 percent of those proceeds that evening will be donated to the cause, according to the "Rally for Robert Richardson III" Facebook page. The page also says there will be future similar events at other area restaurants.
Daniel Lee, owner of MacGregor's, was not available to comment, but an employee who answered the phone at the restaurant Tuesday morning confirmed that MacGregor's is the site of the rally.
An opposing Facebook page was created recently, but it did not appear to have the same amount of support at the page supporting the teen.
The "Do NOT Free Robert (Bob) Richardson III" page had three likes as of Monday afternoon, and a post from the page creator stating, "Child Abuse cannot be ignored, however neither in any case can murder be ignored or tolerated."
The opposing website, however, was deleted by Tuesday morning.
Requests posted by The Aegis seeking phone calls from supporters of either website were not returned as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Richardson, of the 800 block of Moores Mill Road, is being held without bond at the Harford County Detention Center in Bel Air. He has a felony dismissal hearing coming up in Harford County District Court on Feb. 20, according to electronic court records, the likely next step before his case is moved to the Circuit Court level for actual trial.
The teenager, a freshman at C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air, was charged with allegedly shooting his father late at night on Jan. 9. He was apprehended early the following morning after leading police on a brief chase before he crashed his vehicle into a wall near a Bel Air church.
The body of his father, Robert Richardson Jr., was found partially submerged in a pond behind a relative's home in Aberdeen, according to police.
The younger Richardson admitted to police he shot and killed his father, according to charging documents. He appeared briefly in District Court on Jan. 17, where he waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
Tom Ashwell, of the Public Defender's office, confirmed Monday that someone hired a private attorney for Richardson and the attorney, Marc Snyder, recently entered his appearance in court records. An associate in Snyder's Baltimore law firm confirmed Tuesday that Snyder will be stepping in as Richardson's attorney, but also said he did not have any additional information.
The Public Defender's office is preparing documentation to withdraw its appearance, Ashwell said.
The felony dismissal date, Ashwell said, is an administrative move, a dismissal of the case at the District Court level, so the case can move through the process to Harford County Circuit Court.
Harford State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly wrote in an e-mail Tuesday that he does not have any comment on the status of the Richardson case.
Check back with http://www.exploreharford.com for updates to this developing story.