On January 9, 2012, Robert Richardson III, 16, shot and killed his father, Robert Richardson, Jr. in the home they shared in Bel Air, Maryland. The event came as a shock to this small, tight-knit community, many of whom had known of the younger Robert Richardson and the turbulent relationship he shared with his father. As a result of the shooting, Robert Richardson has been charged as an adult with First and Second Degree Murder.
What might otherwise be just another violent expression of a “youth gone bad,” has engendered the opposite reaction in much of Robert’s community and beyond. Affectionately known to his friends and family as “Bear,” Robert, by most accounts, suffered serious and multi-faceted abuse by his father for much of his life. Those who knew or observed Robert often saw him wearing the same clothes for days at a time, covered with multiple bruises, and showing other evidence of extreme problems in his home.
The subject of child abuse, the need for those who know to take action, and the terrible consequences that the victim can suffer when no action is taken goes far beyond this particular case. This case, however, should serve as an example of what can happen when the desperate cries of a child victim of abuse go unheeded, and our children are left to fend for themselves.
We believe that Robert Richardson should not be charged with First Degree Murder, but rather with a lesser charge in the more appropriate juvenile justice system. It is there that he can get the attention, counseling, and services that he desperately needs, so that he can, at some point in the future, return to society as a fully functioning and productive member of that society. We believe that Robert's actions were a direct result of the abuse he suffered, and the failure of "the system" to protect him and keep him safe. We believe that Robert's life continues to hold value and that he deserves the opportunity to heal from his suffering and take his rightful place in society.
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