BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Lawyers for a son who murdered his father fought to get his guilty plea thrown out Tuesday morning in a controversial Harford County case.
Bob Richardson III was a teenager when he killed his father after saying he’d been abused for years.
Supporters of Bob Richardson III, held hands and prayed outside the historic Harford County Courthouse in hopes that a judge would throw out his guilty plea in a controversial case that’s raised concerns over how juveniles and abuse victims are treated by Maryland courts.
Richardson is being represented by Nancy Forster, Maryland’s former top public defender, who’s now in private practice.
She says he was given incorrect information by his original lawyer and the judge before making the plea that would send him to prison for 18 years.
“Whatever happens in that courtroom today, it’s a win. It’s a win for bob, and it’s a win for our family,” says Eileen Siple, adoptive mother.
WJZ was there when Eileen Siple adopted Bob two years ago. Her daughter went to school with him and she became captivated by his saga, believing justice was never served.
In January 2012, Bob was 16 at the time when he shot and killed his father in their home. Although some biological family members deny longtime physical and emotional the abuse, Eileen says Bob felt there was no other way to stop it.
“He doesn’t want anybody to do what he felt he needed to do,” Siple says.
“It wasn’t something evil, although it seems that way, it was his way of saving his life. I really believe that,” supporter Lillian Deeble says.
Richardson’s new lawyers say when he entered the guilty plea that would put him behind bars for 18 years, he was incorrectly told by his lawyer and the judge in court, that if he claimed what’s called “imperfect self-defense” he could get life in prison.
They say he suffered from PTSD and battered child syndrome and as a juvenile was unfairly treated like an adult.
“I burst into tears because that is not him,” says Margaret Barksdale, Bob’s biological mother’s childhood friend.
The Harford County state’s attorney denies the claim and says the original attorney was effective and is vigorously fighting to keep the plea and sentence intact.
Bob’s loved ones say they won’t give up.
“My prayer is for justice to be done, and for Bob to get what Bob needs to get. There is no good that can come from keeping him locked up any longer,” Siple says.
Richardson remains incarcerated in a Western Maryland prison.
The judge did not issue a ruling Tuesday. She says she will issue a written ruling but gave no indication of when that would happen.