Skip to comments.Burglar's killer takes plea deal, won't have to serve jail-time if he fulfills conditions
Posted on 07/24/2013 10:01:20 AM PDT by Deadeye Division
Burglar's killer takes plea deal, won't have to serve jail-time if he fulfills conditions
Authorities didn't press murder charges because of circumstances of crime By David DeWitt
A Jacksonville area man who last month fatally shot an alleged burglar as the suspect left a neighbor's home and property pleaded no contest Tuesday morning in Athens County Common Pleas Court.
Randy Richmond, 39, pleaded to reckless homicide, a third-degree felony, and negligent homicide, a first-degree misdemeanor, in connection with the June 20 shooting death of Keith "P.J." Rutter, 33, of Glouster.
It appears that more serious charges, such as murder, weren't pressed, because the fatal shooting didn't appear premeditated or deliberate.
Athens County Common Pleas Judge George P. McCarthy agreed to hold Richmond's plea in abeyance as he completes an agreed-upon three-year diversion program through the Athens County Prosecutor's Office.
The agreement requires Richmond to remain a law-abiding citizen, complete 60 hours of community service, pay restitution of $1,000 to pay for funeral costs, and make monthly contact with a supervising officer, as well as pay court costs.
Should Richmond violate any of these conditions, McCarthy said, the court has his no contest plea in hand, and could proceed to sentencing, which could result in a five-year prison term.
Rutter's mother, Nannette Justus, attended the court proceeding and told Judge McCarthy that she endorses the plea agreement. (A letter from Justus appears in today's Athens NEWS opinion section.)
Blackburn presented the court with the facts of the case, as gathered by sheriff's investigators, reporting that on June 20 Athens County 9-1-1 got a call from Richmond's wife that a man they identified as Rutter was walking past their Taylor Ridge Road home, and that her husband, Randy, was outside watching the man. Taylor Ridge is located in the Glouster-Jacksonville area.
Soon after, Richmond reportedly called Athens County 9-1-1 to report that he just shot a man with a .22 rifle as he was leaving Richmond's mother-in-law's house and yard, located nearby. Numerous Athens County Sheriff's Office personnel and Athens County EMS responded to the scene.
Blackburn said that Richmond was located in the brush off Taylor Ridge Road in close proximity to Rutter, who was lying on the ground. After checking for Rutter's vital signs, paramedics advised sheriff's officers that Rutter was dead.
Sheriff's Det. Brice Fick provided a narrative of the events in a Sheriff's Office report provided by County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn to the court Tuesday:
"Richmond stated that he was sitting at the computer in his home, and his wife was in the living room when she alerted Richmond that 'there goes that guy up the road,'" the report stated. "This was explained as the Rutter subject who lives down the road and is a suspect in multiple burglaries in the area, including at least three to Richmond's mother-in-law's home."
Richmond stated in the report that he grabbed his rifle and exited the house and moved to the rear of his house toward the rear of his mother-in-law's house through a field behind both houses, the report said.
Richmond told investigators that he arrived at the rear of his mother-in-law's home and knelt down in the weeds and began watching and listening for where the burglary suspect might be.
As his mother-in-law mowed her lawn, Richmond stated that he witnessed the burglary suspect exit the rear of her home.
"Richmond stated that Rutter was moving quickly across the back porch toward the fence separating the wooded area from the yard," the report recounted. "Richmond explained that as Rutter was moving across the porch, he lost sight of the man due to a building that obstructed his vision. He then noticed Rutter come off the porch and enter the back yard and move toward the end of the fence."
He said that he witnessed Rutter place a folding knife into a case, and at that time he yelled at Rutter to stop but Rutter did not acknowledge his yelling.
"Richmond then moved to the yard area and began to follow Rutter toward the edge of the fence," the report continued. "Richmond stated that he stopped at the edge of the fence and fired three rounds into the air and continued yelling for Rutter to stop. Richmond stated that Rutter continued to move toward the woods up the hill."
Richmond then moved to the wooded side of the fence and said he could see Rutter approximately 15 yards away and moving through tall weeds. He said he fired two or three more rounds, this time toward Rutter, adding that he was firing low, at his legs, trying to get him to stop.
The account continued, "He (Richmond) stated that shortly after firing at him, Rutter yelled, 'stop, you got me, I'm done. You got me. I'm down,'" and Richmond replied by telling him to stay where he was, and that the Sheriff's Office was coming. Richmond also reportedly attempted CPR to no avail.
According to Athens County Coroner Dr. Harold Thompson, the preliminary cause of death in Rutter's case was a gunshot wound to his left side torso.
On June 26, Richmond and his defense attorney, K. Robert Toy, along with Sheriff's Det. Fick, Prosecutor Blackburn and two investigators from the Prosecutor's Office, traveled to the area of the incident and filmed a re-enactment of what happened, including the shooting of Rutter as he fled up the hill into the woods, having been hit in brush between two trees from a distance of approximately 65 feet away.
Blackburn said after the court hearing that shell casings collected at the scene fit this narrative. He characterized the shooting during the incident as a "very unlucky shot," noting that Richmond hit Rutter uphill through trees and foliage with limited, if any, visibility, and without taking careful aim.
The prosecutor said that Richmond acted negligently and recklessly but not with malice and called it a "terrible mistake."
"What needs to be clear to the public is that he did not have the right to shoot him," Blackburn said after the plea hearing. "This is not allowed, (but) a lot of people in the same situation would've been firing a gun at Mr. Rutter running away What this does is acknowledge this is an illegal activity and holds him accountable."
As mentioned earlier in this article, Rutter's mother, Justus, also had a letter read by Blackburn during the proceeding.
It reads, in part, "I want the public to know that P.J. was no monster and would never intentionally hurt anyone. His drug addiction took control over his life and created the theft. If P.J. could have controlled his behavior he would have. He reached out to several people over the years but always slipped back into his addiction."
Justus wrote that attempts at rehabilitation failed and asked the public to understand the seriousness of drug addiction and to help those struggling with addiction to get help.
"I would like to apologize to the public for what my son has done to anyone," she wrote, "but have respect for me because I was his mother, and I have lost part of my heart."
:: Randy Richmond, 39, pleaded to reckless homicide, ^^a third-degree felony^^, and negligent homicide ::
So, he gave up his 2ndA right to have a gun in or near his possession.
He sure did, and probably lucky to get away with only that. Still I can’t fault the guy.
My house was broken into just over a year ago. A slight variation in time and my wife would have been home alone. Fortunately the house was empty.
No doubt this makes the perp's mom feel better, but I have real problems with an idea like that. YOUR kid chose to use those drugs, lady, so he is responsible for all that followed.
I think I read it 100%. But like media these days, the fact I wanted was not in there. Was the dead guy found to have been a burglar, then or in the past?
Tough to understand. I think it says he saw the guy coming out of the house carrying stuff and shot him with a .22 as he ran away.
But his wife didn’t
Yeah but he can’t be found near siad firearm.
What’s a whitey s’pozza do?
"I tried to shoot low, but I'm not very good at that sort of thing." Sheriff Calhoun of Red Creek Hang 'em High
Police cowboys in Oakland warn first to stop, if not they will shoot in the back and get away with it in court. It is a fact. So what`s the difference? Cops are above the law. One law for citizens, another one for cops.
=A double standard which is illegal.
I agree - if you mess with someone’s home and property you’re fair game. In Atlanta a black guy recently gunned down a robber running away on a public street and no charges whatsoever. Guess it’s ok if you’re not white.
In short, what this DA is telling the community is that you must let robbers, rapists, and attempted murderers get away if you cannot stop them inside your house.
This country is so sick. Is it any wonder decent people abhor government at every level. They don’t stand up for the people being preyed upon by the losers.
I am not saying this gives persons a cause to run rampant through the neighborhood shooting someone down. I think this was not a situation where he came in not knowing what was going on, given the loser’s known past history of crime and knowing he was inside a relative’s house while the relative had not asked that person in as a guest. I believe he made the correct assessment of the situation and the whole firing blind stuff, it depends on what kind of neighborhood it was if there’s nothing but woods behind where he’s aiming.
But the whole general attitude of “can’t touch me if I make it outside your house” enforced by the DA is ridiculous to the common sense of people who fear the cops are going to raid their own house accidentally, who only are looked at by government at every level as a serf moneybag, and you better not take care of criminals who successfully rob you and are getting away.
Cops are allowed to shoot for other lesser reasons than fear of death/great bodily harm.
I some places people are able to shoot to stop various serious felonies in progress.
He should give up his 2A right. It is not ok to fire indiscriminately with no clear line of sight. What if there were kids playing in the wooded area?
Also the perp was not directly a threat to the shooter. I am all about 2A rights but this guy does not help us and was lucky to get off as easily as he did
This was obviously not in Texas. In Texas they would not have charged the guy with anything. That is especially true if the perp was carrying things from the house.
This is what Trayvon's parents should be saying.