West Seattle Crime Watch: Plea bargain in Fairmount Springs attack

November 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm | In Delridge, Delridge District Council, West Seattle news | 27 Comments

We’ve just learned that another high-profile West Seattle case has been resolved with a guilty plea. This one is the attack last May that left a 65-year-old Fairmount Springs woman seriously hurt and brought law-enforcement and political leaders to the neighborhood days later. The victim turned up on a neighbor’s doorstep early one morning with injuries including more than 20 broken bones, but how she had been hurt was not initially clear.

In early July, with the help of DNA evidence, police arrested a man who lived in the same home to which the victim had fled, 49-year-old Monty Richardson. Court documents say he broke into the victim’s home, dragged her into her basement, tried to strangle her, and beat, kicked, and jumped on her till she lost consciousness. Richardson pleaded guilty last Thursday to first-degree burglary and second-degree assault, with the third charge against him, unlawful imprisonment, dismissed. Prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 2 1/2 years on the first count, 1 year and 2 months on the second (to run concurrently with the first). According to court documents, he is entering the guilty plea as a so-called Alford plea – he does not admit guilt on either charge but believes the evidence is likely to lead to a conviction.

Richardson is scheduled to be sentenced December 2nd by King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller.

27 Comments

  1. Sentencing guidelines need to be updated, increased. Not sure how this is done but someone getting 3-4 years for inflicting that much damage on someone, burglary, etc is too light of a sentence. They will be out much sooner with good behavior and over crowding.
    .
    Society needs to get its priorities straight! Respect human life more and stop obsessing over sports, celebrities, and dogs to name a few.

    Comment by todd_ — 2:34 pm November 21, 2011 #

  2. travesty; sounds more like attempted murder, and he only gets about 2 yrs?

    Comment by Diane — 2:55 pm November 21, 2011 #

  3. @Todd – Yes, it’s horrible when people feel compassion toward living creatures other than humans. Perhaps you could provide a list of things you think are worthy of caring about so that we’ll all be able to get our priorities straight, i.e. the same as yours.

    Comment by Ajax — 3:13 pm November 21, 2011 #

  4. Any reason they let him enter an Alford plea when they had his DNA evidence at the scene? If there was a good chance that he would be found guilty, why wasn’t he tried? Disgusting.

    Comment by wsite — 3:28 pm November 21, 2011 #

  5. By the grace of God she lived and he is rewarded with a light sentence because of this? 20 years would be more like it. Geesh!

    Comment by Dale — 3:28 pm November 21, 2011 #

  6. Not what I said Ajax.

    Comment by todd_ — 3:48 pm November 21, 2011 #

  7. Wow. Sentence FAIL. I’m sure he will be back at it again when he’s out and then everyone will be asking how someone so dangerous was allowed back into society.

    Comment by Emmyjane — 4:37 pm November 21, 2011 #

  8. 2-3 years is so wrong. This man should be removed from society until he’s too old to hurt anyone else. At least one year for every broken bone.

    Comment by WSMom — 4:39 pm November 21, 2011 #

  9. Without being able to review all of the evidence in the case, I think it’s difficult, if not impossible, to know why the plea bargain is what it is. There could be issues with the DNA evidence that we don’t know about (either contamination or innocent explanations for someone’s DNA being where it was found); there could be issues with the defendant’s mental state (such as a plausible insanity defense); there could be issues concerning the identification of the perpetrator (such as when the DNA doesn’t rule out other suspects and the victim cannot identify her attacker). The defendant entered an Alford plea, which indicates that he says he’s innocent, but he doesn’t want to take the risk of being convicted at trial. Maybe some or all of you know all the evidentiary details. Without them, I don’t see how anyone could be so confident that the prosecutor has made a bad deal.

    Comment by waterworld — 4:43 pm November 21, 2011 #

  10. Well waterworld, he entered an Alford plea, which to me means, “I’m not admitting guilt but I am guilty”…otherwise you fight it out in court. I think by this admission there’s not much doubt as to whether he did it or not (he lived in the same house for C’s sake). If he is insane, perhaps the plea-bargained sentence followed by a mandatory psychiatric evaluation (if they haven’t done one already) would keep us all safe a bit longer. I have an idea… he can be your roommate when he gets out and you can really find out what he’s like.

    Comment by onceachef — 5:39 pm November 21, 2011 #

  11. I notice you list the sentencing judge – is there any use in contacting him? This is really shocking.

    Comment by raincity — 8:26 pm November 21, 2011 #

  12. We do that when the info is available. I have heard judges cite letters and e-mail they’ve received – but I think it is a very judge-by-judge process. If you decide to voice your opinion in this way, another thing to think about is the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office role. To some degree, they are also constricted by the sentencing ranges stipulated in state law, but they were the ones who struck the deal, not the judge, and so if you have an opinion, you might share it with them too … TR

    Comment by WSB — 8:58 pm November 21, 2011 #

  13. He did not live in the same house. He lived in the same house that the victim went to for help afterwards. But I agree this seems like a trivial sentence for an exceptionally brutal assault.

    Comment by 35this35mph — 9:04 pm November 21, 2011 #

  14. @todd: The sentencing guidelines take discretion and power away from judges, and for every creep like this, someone is serving undue time for a petty crime. I’d throw the book at this guy and agree this sentence is ridiculous, but we traded away the ability to exact more punitive sentences when we took discretion away from judges under the guidelines. I would support giving more leeway and discretion to judges, so they can enhance, or lighten based on their judgment. Then, we can judge them at the ballot box. Today, they and prosecutors very often say, “we did the best we could under the guidelines,” while exacting inappropriate sentences, good and bad. Rather than always more, more, more, we need to revisit the whole approach again.

    Comment by pjmanley — 10:11 am November 22, 2011 #

  15. Am I losing my mind? The article I read is about transportation improvements, not sentencing guidlines for serious crimes. Regardless, as a resident and frequent delridge traveller I am for the the Delridge Project as described.

    Comment by Chris — 1:58 pm November 22, 2011 #

  16. Chris – I suspect I have a glitch here – which might explain why this story, which I started more than 24 hours before publishing it, at first showed up with the wrong timestamp. Fixing!!!!

    Comment by WSB — 2:22 pm November 22, 2011 #

  17. Dear West Seattle Bloggers,
    We are all concerned about the terrible assault on our neighbor and that the perpetrator receives just due. However before we descend into a lynch-mob mentality and verbally flog Monty Richardson within an inch of his life, please consider that he may be telling the truth. He may be innocent of this assault.

    Yes, he had a substance abuse problem that reared up again early this year; however, to his credit, he voluntarily went into drug treatment in May and was doing well. And as a blogger pointed out last July, in all his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction in the past, he has no record, official or unofficial, of ever even having struck or shoved another person while under the influence or otherwise. His family will tell you he doesn’t hit people, and family is usually on the frontlines of any type of abuse.

    He does not fit the original 911 description or the description that was first related by the victim to some in the neighborhood. He is substantially taller and heavier than the original 911 description. We understand that a critical piece of Monty’s clothing shown the victim was not the same as that she had carefully observed during the attack. Another piece of clothing the perpetrator was wearing is something we understand a woman would wear. The timeline is off according to original statement of the victim that it happened at a time substantially different than the early Sunday morning hours when Monty is reported to have been at the victim’s back door. Even the dna has reasonable explanations that have been iterated in an email received on our Fairmount Springs email list. These and other details just do not fit Monty. Yet he is in jail for it, facing prison and all that goes with that both during and after.

    Consider that if the prosecutors were really sure of their case, would they offer or allow this plea? Perhaps they also realize that it is possible Monty is innocent. And if he is innocent, then who really did it? There is some thought, speculation if you will, that persons who were angry with Monty’s wife and had expressed threats toward her may have committed this assault (or hired it done) and beat up the neighbor directly across the street by mistake, thinking they had Monty’s house and were beating up Monty’s wife. Speculation, but if thought through, the pieces of the puzzle start to fall in place.

    There are those of us who are convinced that Monty simply did not do this assault—based on the description from the 911 call, based on the victim’s original description, based on the explanations for presence of his dna, based on lack of any motive, based on the fact that the victim was one of his favorite people in the neighborhood, based on his lack of aggression toward anyone.

    So before folks start tightening up the hanging noose, please think about it. When a case of mistaken conviction is featured on the news, we’re all genuinely concerned, particularly if there were leads that were not researched in the investigation. Let’s not let this be one of them.

    If you write the judge or the prosecutor about this, I hope you will emphasize more than anything that the whole of the situation be considered, that all the information be weighed, and that the aim in this is not winning, but justice. Thank you.

    Comment by C — 9:59 pm November 30, 2011 #

  18. An Alford Plea should not be allowed in this type of case, in my opinion. If he did not do the crime he should go to court and clear his name and not have to rely on those, like “C”, above to defend him.

    Comment by bleeblah — 9:46 pm December 3, 2011 #

  19. It’s still considered a guilty plea – treated the same way. And in court, as I hope our coverage reflects, it was stated that it wasn’t necessarily that he was denying it so much as he claims he has zero recollection and therefore couldn’t say for sure that he did something so apparently out of character … TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:19 pm December 3, 2011 #

  20. Agreed WSmom,”2-3 years is so wrong”- especially when the wrong person is sentenced. FYI bleebah, he did not request or rely on “C” (nor anyone)to defend him.

    Comment by Silncd — 12:26 pm December 5, 2011 #

  21. 12/6/2011

    This e-mail is to inform you of the recent transfer of MONTY RICHARDSON from the King County Jail on 12/6/2011 18:21:00. Please take the steps you need to ensure your safety. If you need help, please call the Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-562-6025.
    AM NOT SURE IF THIS MEANS HE IS OUT? DOES ANYONE KNOW? WATCH OUT!

    Comment by wwwes — 9:47 am December 7, 2011 #

  22. WWWes, that would almost certainly mean he has been moved to state prison for his sentence. But I’ll check. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:50 am December 7, 2011 #

  23. Thanks for checking, TR.
    “C” is a religous churchgoer, friend of the wife, who seems to think that Jesus has claimed Monty back into his fold and he is recovered, or unbelievably she is disillusioned enough to think he never did it in the first place, in denial no doubt. I am personally concerned for the safety of our neighborhood and/or any other neighborhood he ends up in.

    Comment by wwwes — 10:29 am December 7, 2011 #

  24. Dear wwwes, et. al,

    Please be assured that the sentence given Mr. Richardson, as stated in the WSB report of the court hearing, holds. Whoever sent you the email should know that and not create this undue alarm.

    As to your statements about me, it’s interesting that you seem to think you know what I think. I had hoped to not post anything further on this issue. It has taken a big toll on my life. But since you brought it up, here goes.

    Yes, I am a religious believer and acknowledge the power of God in Jesus Christ to redeem. Mock it if you will. I believe that His is the best power to pull people out of meth addiction. Isn’t that what redemption is– pulling the sinner out of the bog of sin and setting his feet on a firm path, “redeeming our lives from the pit”? I believe that God cares very much for this man. And I believe that the reason this attack did not come upon his wife that night, as some of us think was the intent of the perpetrator, was because of the prayer for his house by his pastor and those of his church the week or so before, that Monty initiated because he was afraid of harm coming to his family from others, as has been mentioned previously. That Monty continued to let his difficulties lead him to drugs is unfortunate.

    And, yes, I believe that with the help of his drug rehab, his pastor and church, he has been able to gain some months free of the hold of this terrible drug, and has begun to restore his relationship with his Creator, that hopefully will last now. Would you rather he remain enmeshed in the drugs? Do you really wish that ill upon him?

    I am the only one responding in these comments who has had the courage to identify myself while many use anonymity to say the harshest things, although those who have been fair, reasonable and respectful are greatly appreciated, I hope by all. If Monty is innocent of this assault, as, yes, I believe he may be, then I may have put myself in jeopardy from those who did. My defense of him was done as much to simply to defend the circumstances, to put forth the details as it had been related to me by both sides and others I spoke to or listened to, to try to cut through the distortions and sometime lies that I had been hearing and to make some sense of it all. I would have done the same for anyone, had I similar information for their situation. It is truth that is at stake here, what is the truth of the situation.

    Yes, I am a friend of Monty’s wife. However, you cannot imagine the anger I had toward them about what I understand was his recent meth use (since February of this year). As renters, they knew that drug use was not acceptable, but rationalized it.

    But what about the silence of the community? What person, who knew or suspected, said anything to me before the assault? As a neighbor said afterwards, “‘Everyone’ knew he was on drugs, but we thought….” and they said nothing to me. Some may have been quiet because they were conflicted as to what to do: they did not want to lose their relationship with Monty’s wife and daughter, who were charming additions to the community, should they be evicted. Others may have been silent for other reasons- and rationalized it.

    Did neighbors think so poorly of me that they thought I would just oust them without consideration or that I approved of drug use – his or anyone’s? Did they value me so little that it didn’t matter to them if there was a drug user living in my rental? Did they dislike him so much and didn’t care that this neighbor was involved with drugs and dragging his family down with it? It seems to me it is a responsibility to speak up. As a friend has said: If we do not speak up, we’re guilty.

    I was not hidden or unknown. I am right here among you. Whether you hold that Monty did the assault or not, I was probably the only person who could have prevented it from happening. I would have given an ultimatum — rehab now or leave now — and this whole knotty problem would probably have disappeared without incident.

    Would we be be able to do this at our work– see something wrong and say nothing? No. There would be consequences. Would we do that, say, on the highway? See something that endangers others or someone in trouble and not report it? No. We call 911 and tell them so it can be resolved without injury. If even your neighbor has left his car lights on, do you just walk by and say nothing? No. You go to the house, whether you know them or not or whether you are on the best of terms or not, and you tell them. How much more, I think, should something have been said early on by neighbors who knew or suspected his drug use. I have appreciated the friendliness and the consideration of this neighborhood, as a general rule. That is why this silence is so hard to understand.

    I also considered myself a friend of some years of the victim. And I valued that friendship. And I know this friendship has now suffered possibly an irreparable rift.

    The victim has bravely come through a terrible ordeal. I pray for her continued safety and healing, and hope the community continues to come around her in loving support and care. And I pray that the important truths of this crime may become known.

    Let’s all recognize, though, that there is an issue at the core of this which everyone appears to be ignoring–the elephant in the room. That is the “known drug house” as the media reports have called it. This is the real problem. That is the real threat. Not this man who was caught in the web of it. But if it makes you feel righteous to denounce him, then denounce him…and me, while you’re at it, if it makes you feel better.

    Comment by C — 5:41 am December 8, 2011 #

  25. I personally know the man (sadly). He is a cunningly charming con. He has conned you, landlady, conned & manipulated his wife and forever damaged his daughter. Not to mention the irreparable damage to the victim. It does NOT make me “feel righteous to denounce him”. He is now attempting to con the system into believing that church & prayer has changed his ways. If they fall for that lie, heaven help us all. The justice system here completely failed. This is a travesty.

    Comment by wwwes — 6:25 pm December 14, 2011 #

  26. Dear wwwes,
    I appreciate that you have a point of view. However, I really don’t care to debate with anonymity any more. If you have something to say, some light to shed on this situation, some facts, some evidence, something substantial besides opinion–contact me, speak up. I’m not hidden; I’m right here in the neighborhood every day. Otherwise, time will tell about Monty. There are some things that you cannot con. And I am hoping for him.

    C

    Comment by C — 11:48 pm December 14, 2011 #

  27. Using more than one handle in the same discussion is not allowed here, particularly not when you are trying to pretend to be two different people, so a new comment on this will not be published. And this story is more than three weeks old, anyway, which is where we close things down. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 8:37 pm December 15, 2011 #

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