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Richardson murder trial underway

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David Richardson is charged with first-degree murder for shooting a man. The defendant said the victim beat him in the head with a wrench.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

UPDATED: 3/27/12, 5:55 P.M.:

The jury has recommended a total of nine years in prison for David Levelle Richardson: four years for the involuntary manslaughter, two years for discharging a firearm in the occupied dwelling and three years for use of a firearm. Watch The Gazette for more details on Richardson's two-day trial.

 

UPDATED: 3/27/12, 4:28 P.M.:

A jury in Carroll County has found David Levelle Richardson guilty of involuntary manslaughter, use of a firearm in committing a felony and discharging a firearm in an occupied dwelling.

UPDATE 3/27/12:

The defense has rested after attorney Jonathon Venzie called two witnesses to testify today. The prosecution put on its case yesterday, calling 10 witnesses to the stand on the first day with another two on Tuesday.

The case has been turned over to a jury.

We'll have more details as soon as they are available.

 

HILLSVILLE — Within five minutes of David Levelle Richardson and other partygoers arriving at a home in Pipers Gap in May 2010, Bryon Jordan Wilson was dead of a gunshot wound through the heart, the prosecution said Monday at the opening of Richardson's first-degree murder charge.

At his trial in Carroll Circuit Court, Richardson also faces charges of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm as a convicted felon and discharging a firearm in an occupied dwelling.

Wilson and his girlfriend were watching television at the home when Richardson and the others arrived, Commonwealth's Attorney Nathan Lyons told the nine-woman, four-man jury. Horseplay between Richardson and Wilson soon started and got heated quickly.

 

Wilson got thrown over the couch and offered to end it, but got punched in the face instead.

Wilson picked up a wrench and followed Richardson into a bathroom.

In his opening arguments on Monday, Lyons described three gunshots following each other at a seemingly slow and deliberate pace. One of those shots went through Wilson's heart and lungs and exited about four inches lower from his back, which a prosecution witness will testify is consistent with the bullet being fired in a downward trajectory.

The shell casing found at the scene also matches the firearm, which deputies found under a bush outside the residence, an expert will testify at the trial this week.

Lyons said that Richardson came out of the bathroom after firing the fatal shot, went outside and threw the gun under the bush.

Richardson then went to another home in the neighborhood, where he hid in the closet under some clothes.

Lyons said a prosecution expert will testify that, from the evidence, Richardson and the victim where at least five feet apart at the time of the shooting.

That indicates something other than self-defense from an attack with a wrench, Lyons said. "He murdered Bryon Wilson because he was angry."

Defense attorney Jonathon Venzie of Independence told the jury that this incident involves a group of people who considered themselves friends getting together for a party.

The horseplay in the very small home started between Richardson and another man, and then Wilson came around the couch and head-butted Richardson.

Richardson responded by pushing Wilson, who fell over the couch, Venzie said. Alcohol played a part in the confrontation.

After deputies arrived on the scene, they found a wrench about 14 inches long near Wilson's hand, were he collapsed in the living area of the home. Venzie first showed the jury the actual wrench, with blood still on it, which was bagged up as evidence by police.

Then the defense attorney picked up a new wretch with the same span as the one used as a weapon.

Venzie estimated his wrench was about an inch longer than the one found at the scene.

The wrench had some heft. "This is what David Richardson was confronted with," Venzie said.

The defense attorney argued that Richardson was beaten into a corner and into the bathroom where Wilson chased him.

Venzie argued that's when witnesses heard a “thump” — that was Richardson getting hit in the head with the wrench.

Richardson had his head cracked open, Venzie said.

Richardson got 12 staples to close his head wound at the hospital, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing.

The court went on to hear testimony Monday in the trial, which is expected to take two days. More from the murder trial will appear online at www.galaxgazette.com and in Friday's edition of The Gazette.