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Friday, January 16, 2004

Tekela Will Get Another Shot

Local prosecutors resolved a tragic and infuriating case yesterday by virtually guaranteeing a vicious murderer gets out of prison in less than 20 years:

Tekela L. Richardson, accused of beating a 79-year-old St. Paul woman to death June 17 while stealing her vehicle, pleaded guilty Thursday to intentional second-degree murder. ... Under a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend that Richardson receive a 25 1/2-year prison term as called for by state sentencing guidelines. That would require her to serve at least 17 years.

However, District Judge M. Michael Monahan reminded Richardson that he is not bound by the plea agreement, and that she cannot withdraw her guilty plea if he decides to give her a longer sentence. She will be sentenced March 15.

In my native California, murder during a robbery is automatically first-degree murder, and the only two options are death or life without parole. California has many issues, but lightweight sentencing is no longer one of them. I am constantly astounded that Minnesotans abide these sentencing trends of mercy towards the criminal at the expense of law-abiding citizens. According to this article, Tekela has been arrested at least four previous times, although no information on their nature or resulting convictions was available.

Shirley Shepherd was bound, kidnapped, and beaten to death by Tekela Richardson so that Richardson could get an old woman's car. Richardson should be spending the rest of her life in prison to ensure it doesn't happen again. A seventeen-year sentence is an insult to the victim and her family, and it serves notice that the State of Minnesota does not hold the lives of its citizens in very high regard.

As an aside, notice how the Strib mentions that Shepherd's car is an SUV twice during the article, but declines to provide any detail on the defendant's prior offenses. Is the type of car critical to understanding the story -- or is the Strib attempting to imply that the victim may have been at fault because she drove a vehicle that the reporter or the editor doesn't like? It's eerily familiar to this story and appears to be an editorial preference of the newspaper. Editorial bias comes in many, many flavors ...

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10:28 AM in Media Watch, Songs of the Shining Wire | Permalink


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Using "SUV" to describe a vehicle isn't as evil as people think. It's a descriptive term. If a pickup truck had been stolen, the story would have referened a "pickup" or a "truck." The same is true for a motorcycle.

Or, I suppose, the paper could water down the story with a generic description, such as "vehicle." Next, you could remove references to gender because it's sexist and refer to the parties as "person."

Or, we could not be so defensive when we see "SUV" in print.

Posted by: Bob at Jan 16, 2004 11:33:39 AM

Bob, the problem for me is that I will see the newspaper (or the AP) use the word "car" or "vehicle" for almost all other stories; they usually only specify SUVs unless the type of car is integral to the story. Why two mentions of an SUV and no investigation into the murderer's past? I think that's more relevant to the plea bargain and sentencing.

Posted by: Captain Ed at Jan 16, 2004 2:34:58 PM