Man guilty in club killings Two students died in 1996 shooting at Volcano's

200-year sentence possible

Jury deliberated three days to reach verdict

December 23, 1997|By Ivan Penn and Dan Thanh Dang | Ivan Penn and Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

After three days of jury deliberations, Kevin Lamont Richardson was found guilty yesterday of the fatal shootings of two college students who were killed in a hail of gunfire outside Volcano's nightclub last year.

The jury, which appeared to be deadlocked several times during the deliberations, handed up the verdict hours before a deadline the judge had set for a mistrial.

The 25-year-old was convicted of second-degree murder in the deaths of Donte P. Young, a 22-year-old student at Coppin State College, and Lori McDaniel, 19, a second-year civil engineering student at Morgan State University, Oct. 24, 1996.

Richardson stood in the courtroom as the verdict was read with his hands clasped and twiddling his right thumb, occasionally staring at the victims' family, who burst into tears as the jury announced its decision.

"I feel relieved that this is over with," said McDaniel's mother, Joan Washington, as she left the Baltimore Circuit Courthouse with her eyes full of tears. "It's not going to bring my daughter back, but I am a little satisfied today."

Dressed in a T-shirt that read "IN MEMORY OF DONTE P. YOUNG," Young's mother, Bonita Johnson, said she will rest easier over the holidays now that Richardson has been convicted. "I'm glad he's off the street and won't be able to do this to anyone else's child," Johnson said as she left the courthouse.

Richardson also was convicted of four counts of attempted murder for wounding four others in the incident, and for carrying and using a handgun during a crime. He could be sentenced to up to 200 years in prison Feb. 12.

John Deros, Richardson's lawyer, said he plans to appeal the case on the grounds that some members of the victims' families allegedly harassed jurors because they were taking days to reach a verdict.

The jury had sent several notes to the judge during their deliberations, saying that it was having trouble reaching a unanimous verdict. Deros said he is concerned that pressure from victims' family members might have led the jury to convict Richardson instead of causing a mistrial by failing to reach a verdict.

"I was surprised because after so long a period of deliberations they came back with a guilty verdict, even after they had told the judge that they were having difficulty reaching a unanimous verdict," Deros said.

"The bottom line is it's not over," he said. "I'm not satisfied with the verdict."

During deliberations, Judge Robert I. H. Hammerman barred all but authorized court personnel from lingering in the vicinity of the jury room. Despite that, some members of the victims' families stood outside the jury room criticizing the jurors.

Concern about the jury being harassed led Hammerman to request additional security in the courtroom before a verdict was announced. Hammerman allowed only the media to leave when the jury left. No one else was immediately allowed out of the courtroom.

Four sheriff's deputies were in the courtroom yesterday along with three correctional officers. During the trial, the courtroom had one sheriff's deputy and one correctional officer.

At the close of the case, the judge had one of the sheriff's deputies escort the jury from the building.

Jurors quickly scattered as they left the building, but one juror, who refused to give his name, said that the jury was not divided over the decision. He said that jurors had to consider a lot of issues in the lengthy trial.

"We didn't take long," the juror said. "We agreed that any person whose activities could contribute to that kind of violence, it had to be second degree. The decision was more difficult than you know."

At issue was a shooting more than a year ago, in which Richardson -- whom the prosecution said was gunning for an enemy -- is said to have opened fire on a crowd of people outside Volcano's club in the 1000 block of Greenmount Ave. Police said the target of Richardson's attack was not hit.

The city permanently closed the club as a result of that and other shootings at Volcano's. Five people were killed and 16 wounded outside the establishment since 1994. The case prompted city officials to padlock many similar clubs.

Pub Date: 12/23/97

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