Convicted murderer from Columbia killed in prison cell

A 28-year-old Columbia man sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering two people in Howard County in 2007 was found dead and bloodied in his Allegany County prison cell early Thursday morning, according to Maryland State Police.

Charles David Richardson IV, who was known as "Face" when he was arrested in May 2007 in the murders of an acquaintance and a 7-Eleven clerk, was found about 5 a.m. under a blanket in his cell bed with trauma to his head, police said.

Guards at the North Branch Correctional Institution in Cresaptown rushed into his cell after observing his cellmate "in possession of clothing that appeared to be bloodstained" outside the cell on an upper-level tier, police said.

Richardson was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

A motive has not been determined and the cause of death has not been released, pending an autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner expected to be conducted Friday, police said. No charges had been filed as of Thursday night.

Richardson was one of the most violent criminals in recent Howard County history.

The life sentence without the possibility of parole Richardson was serving was the result of two first-degree murder convictions, assault charges and gun violations.

In May 2007, Richardson shot an acquaintance, 19-year-old Trae Davon Allen, in the face once, then followed him and shot him in the back three times, for which he was later convicted of first-degree murder. Allen was found on the first floor of Richardson's townhouse in The Berkshires residential complex off Columbia Road, in the 5200 block of Brook Way in Columbia.

Weeks before, in April 2007, Richardson had shot and killed clerk Alevtina Zhilina at a 7-Eleven across the street from The Berkshires. He was also convicted in that killing.

In previous years, Richardson had faced other charges in the county, including attempted second-degree murder, armed robbery, first-degree assault and marijuana possession, though most of the more serious charges were dropped.

Richardson was convicted in part because his brother, William Richardson, a friend of Allen's, agreed to testify against him, and other witnesses told police Charles Richardson had bragged about the killings.

When Richardson was arrested and charged with both murders in May 2007, there had only been one other killing that year in the county.

"We believe we have one person responsible for two heinous crimes in less than a month," Sherry Llewellyn, a county police spokeswoman, said at the time. "In this area, one person can have a huge impact on the overall crime rate."

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